Absentee Vice Presidents and Regional Chairs Signal Deep Discord

Illegal Convening Sparks Outcry as Memo from African Union Commission is Ignored

MPs present at the Opening of the Joint meeting of the Committee on Audit and Public Accounts (CAPA); the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline; the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters and the Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Image from PAP Media

According to the latest report from the Pan-African Parliament, a five-day meeting of the eleven Permanent Committees has been marred by a dismal turnout of parliamentarians, rendering the ongoing sessions virtually ineffective. The committees, spread across three countries—South Africa, Ethiopia, and Burundi—failed to attract the expected number of MPs from member states, raising questions about the effectiveness and legitimacy of the gathering.

Absence of MPs is being regarded as a clear manifestation of the lack of confidence in the leadership of Ethiopian MP Ashebir Gayo imposed on the Parliament, and reportedly enabled by the Addis-Ababa office of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

According to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, each committee should have about thirty parliamentarians, with a quorum of sixteen members. However, only about 40 parliamentarians are in attendance, falling significantly short of the required quorum to conduct any meaningful business.

Four committees, including the Committee on Audit and Public Accounts (CAPA) and the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters, are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Out of the expected 64 minimum participants for quorum, only about 15 are in attendance, including one committee chairperson out of four.

MPs at the seat of the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa, members of the Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology; the Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions and the Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources. Image from PAP Media

In the seat of the Parliament in Midrand, South Africa, three committees are having their meetings. However, of the three committee chairpersons expected at the meeting, only one is in attendance. With an expected 48 minimum participants for quorum, only 9 are present. Similarly, four committees are meeting in Burundi, with only 16 participants out of the potential 64 minimum required for quorum.

MPs in Burundi- Meetings of the Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs; Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs; Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability and Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Image from PAP Media

Parliamentary committee meetings are crucial components of the legislative process, designed to enhance transparency and accountability. They provide a platform for in-depth analysis of policy areas and contribute to the development of well-informed policy recommendations. However, the ongoing PAP committee meetings have fallen short of expectations, raising concerns about the parliament’s ability to fulfill its legislative and oversight functions effectively.

Allegations against the Second Vice President, Hon. Dr. Ashebir Gayo, of unilaterally taking decisions without consulting the Third Vice President are being said to be adding to discontent. The structural deviation from established parliamentary frameworks and the apparent lack of strategic calculation in committee groupings has further fueled dissatisfaction among the members, it is reported.

Other factors include a recent memo from the African Union Commission declaring that the five-member Bureau lacks the quorum to conduct any business. Parliamentarians also expressed discontent with the perceived divide and rule tactics employed and questioned the legality of the meeting convened in defiance of the AUC memo.

The absence of the Third Vice President of the Parliament, Hon. Lucia Maria Mendes Goncalves Dos Passos, and Chairpersons of the Regional Caucuses, was particularly noticeable. It is said that the 4 Chairpersons of the Regional Caucuses, namely Hon. Alhagie Mbow of West Africa, Hon. Pemmy Majodina of Southern Africa, Hon. Terence Mondon of East Africa, and Hon. Jaynet Kabila of Central Africa  wrote last week to the AUC Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, pleading for an emergency meeting to resolve the unprocedural events ongoing at the continental legislative body.


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