Charumbira Remains the Substantive President of the Pan-African Parliament

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The President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Azali Assoumani with Pan-African Parliament President Chief Fortune Charumbira

The President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Azali Assoumani with Pan-African Parliament President Chief Fortune Charumbira

In the face of a recent tumultuous event that threatened the stability and legitimacy of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), it has become increasingly clear that the rightful President of PAP, His Excellency Chief Fortune Z. Charumbira, still holds the position he was elected to until 2025, in accordance with the PAP Protocol and its Rules of Procedure. The attempt to declare his position vacant and the accusations of embezzlement against him have proven to be without merit, and here’s why:

Post by Joseph Kalimbwe announcing the alleged ascension of Gayo to Presidency after attempted takeover in August, during Charumbira’s leave. Image from X/@Joseph_kalimbwe
Invalid Takeover Attempt

On August 23, 2023, the Second Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament, Hon. Dr. Ashebir Gayo, declared himself Acting President of PAP in a unilateral move that sought to suspend the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure and declare both the President and First Vice President’s seats vacant. This attempt to legitimize his stay in power was coupled with accusations of embezzlement against Chief Charumbira.

However, the law clearly states that the tenure of Chief Charumbira was never interrupted. His temporary leave of absence was to attend to responsibilities related to harmonized elections in Zimbabwe. As a returning member, he is not required to retake an oath of office, and the Rules of Procedure confirm this. None of the conditions for declaring a vacancy in the office of the President of PAP are applicable to Chief Charumbira.

Rules of Procedure and Rotation

The Rules of Procedure of PAP have perpetual validity and can only be amended or repealed lawfully by an appropriate organ, which is not the role of any individual, including Hon. Dr. Gayo. Moreover, the principle of rotation, which has been mandated for PAP, is in line with decisions made by the Executive Council of the African Union. Dr. Gayo’s resistance to this principle reflects his attempt to seize power unlawfully.

First Vice President’s Status

The swearing-in of the Mauritania delegation, which Dr. Gayo attempted to prevent, was discussed during a Bureau meeting, and the matter was appropriately referred to the Committee on Rules. Dr. Gayo’s attempt to unilaterally veto decisions of PAP’s organs is unprecedented and goes against the democratic principles of the institution.

Convening a Virtual Session

Dr. Gayo’s attempt to convene a virtual session to legitimize his position contradicts his denunciation of the amendments to the Rules of Procedure that allowed for such sessions. He has put himself in a “Catch-22” situation by opposing the very rules he now wishes to use to his advantage.

Embezzlement Allegations

Accusations of embezzlement against Chief Charumbira, who is not the authorizing or accounting officer of PAP, are unfounded. Dr. Gayo, as the Bureau member in charge of Finance, should be well-versed in PAP’s Financial Rules and Regulations, making such allegations baseless.

Pan-African Parliament Bureau with AUC Chair H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat in June 2022. From left; 4th VP Hon. Francois Ango Ndoutoume from Gabon, 1st VP Hon. Prof. Massouda Mohamed Laghdaf from Mauritania, H.E. Moussa Faki, President Hon. Chief Fortune Zephaniah Charumbira from Zimbabwe, 2nd VP Hon. Ashebir Woldegiorgis Gayo from Ethiopia, 3rd VP Hon. Lúcia Maria Mendes Gonçalves dos Passos (Mrs) from Cape Verde. Image from PAP Media

Chief Charumbira remains the legitimate and substantive President of the Pan-African Parliament until 2025, as stipulated by the PAP Protocol and Rules of Procedure. Dr. Gayo’s attempts to seize power and his accusations of embezzlement are without merit. The principles of rotation and the decisions of the Executive Council are binding on PAP, and the institution must adhere to these principles. Chief Charumbira has achieved commendable progress during his tenure, and he is expected to continue leading PAP to further successes.

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