The dispute last week over whether the presidency of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) pitting delegates from North and Southern Africa against those from East, West and Central Africa should help the Southern African nominee, Chief Fortune Charumbira of Zimbabwe, land the top post of the continental body.
The elections in Midrand, South Africa were suspended until October to allow consultations, especially with the African Union, which has clearly stated that it wants these sort of top posts to rotate between the regions.
Speaker of National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda said yesterday that he would soon brief President Mnangagwa about developments around the suspension of the PAP elections and remained hopeful that Chief Charumbira would be elected.
He commended the Zimbabwean delegation for joining with their colleagues in the Southern and Northern African caucuses in pushing for the rotation of the presidency, which has always been held by countries from Western, Eastern and Central Africa.
Adv Mudenda said this in the National Assembly yesterday while responding to Mashonaland East Proportional Representative legislator, Cde Tatenda Mavetera (Zanu PF), who commended the Zimbabwean delegation in South Africa.
He said the Northern African region did not field a candidate, which should have left Chief Charumbira as the only candidate if the principle of rotation of regions was followed.
The Northern region did not want to put a candidate. That left the Southern region with only one candidate of Chief Charumbira who should have gone unopposed. I will brief the President who has been a strong supporter of PAP and assure him that all is not lost.
“We will get there. From my assessment you will see some major transformation (of PAP) in terms of rules of procedure and its impact and role as an organ of the AU,” said Adv Mudenda.
PAP legislators who have spoken to by The Herald said the suspension of the election has galvanised Southern and Northern African regions to assert their rights by pushing for Chief Charumbira to land the continental body’s presidency.
Chief Charumbira is the acting president of PAP after taking the post early this year.
His bid to contest the election suffered a temporary setback this week after chaos ensued in the PAP as legislators from Africa’s regions were deeply divided on the procedure to adopt for the polls.
At the centre of the fracas is a proposition by Southern and Northern African region calling for the post to be rotated through the regions to allow each region a fair chance.
In an interview from South Africa, Chirumhanzu South legislator Cde Barbara Rwodzi said the Southern African caucus for PAP remained optimistic that they will assume the presidency in line with the principle of rotation.
“Firstly, we are happy that the elections have been suspended. Obviously this will enable the African Union to come and address the sticking issue of presidency on a rotational basis which has not been adhered to for too long.
“We are therefore optimistic that the principle of rotation will prevail because it is in compliance with the rules,” said Cde Rwodzi.
Namibian opposition leader, Mr McHenry Venaani told The Herald from Midrand that the position taken by Southern and North Africa calling for rotation of regions nominating the presidency was vindicated when the AU wrote a letter confirming that position before the continental body suspended the elections.
“Firstly the Southern African region rejected an illegality that has been perpetuated for more than 15 years. There is a famous saying that ‘when an injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes a duty’. We have since been vindicated by a letter from the AU that the principle of rotation must apply,” said Mr Venaani.
A former PAP vice president representing Western African caucus, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah from Nigeria weighed in saying the PAP was bound by principles of the AU.
“Yes I agree that PAP is bound by AU and in this case the principle of rotation must apply. We do not need to ratify the Malabo Protocol for us to comply with this principle of rotation.
“People need to put interests of institutions and the continent ahead of their personal interests if are to build strong institutions in Africa,” said Mr Na’Alla in an interview with The Herald.
The Malabo Protocol on the PAP calls for a regional rotation for the presidency, but the East, West and Central African caucuses said it did not yet apply fewer than 28 countries had ratified it.
The AU’s legal opinion read out at the meeting said the post should rotate by region but the majority rejected this as only an advisory opinion although it was argued that AU opinions amount to a directive.
Some of the candidates contesting include Haidara Cisse from Mali and Albino Aboung from Southern Sudan.