African Union Commission Chairperson His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat congratulates Pan-African Parliament President-elect Hon. Chief Charumbira after the Parliament's elections on June 29, 2022. Image courtesy of PAP media

The AU Retreat on Reforms ended on Monday with more calls for efficiency, transparency, and accountability. In a compelling address by the President of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), H.E. Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira expressed concern over the centralization of business processes and systems at the African Union Commission (AUC).

While centralisation of the AU was introduced to eliminate inefficiencies, the new system is said to have paradoxically resulted in even greater inefficiencies. The PAP President highlighted the long-overdue nature of the reform process, acknowledging the skepticism of African citizens who have started questioning the effectiveness of the African Union and its various organs and agencies.He recommended that the AUC consider decentralizing business systems and processes to various organs, including recruitment, to enhance efficiency and timely service delivery.

African Union flag. Image from public domain

As the successor institution to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the first pan-African body of the postcolonial era, the AU was founded in 2001. The aim of the new body was to present a united African front in international affairs and to speed up the development of the continent. However, the AU was hobbled from the start by its poor structural design, which until now is notoriously too centralized and weak to function as envisioned

The AU concentrates decision-making authority in the AU Commission, an executive branch roughly analogous to the European Commission, which initiates policy proposals and implements decisions taken by the larger AU Assembly, among other AU organs. The AU Commission controls the purse strings, and member states, as well as the Pan-African Parliament have little influence over the drafting of budgets, proposals and initiatives. This level of centralization has proved unworkable in a continent of 54 countries and more than 2,000 distinct ethnic groups. Some sections have argued that the AU Commission’s authority mostly serves to create suspicion and intrigue and ultimately to instill resistance in member states to the body’s dictates.

Reminding the African civil servants of the relevance of the continental legislative body which he leads, Hon. Chief Charumbira said, “The founding fathers realized that without a continental Parliament, the quest for representative democracy, popular participation, and continental integration would remain nothing more than a pipe-dream”. President Charumbira emphasized that the establishment of a continental legislature composed of elected representatives was crucial for the Union to truly represent African citizens.

He also supported and concurred with the recommendations put forth by the Reform Unit, providing his own robust insights and recommendations for the success of the Reform Process, particularly concerning the PAP’s role within the AU architecture.

The Retreat on Institutional Reforms and the preparations of the second decade of Agenda 2063 held this weekend in Kigali, Rwanda, brought together various stakeholders, including the AU Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC), African Union Organs, and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). In their agenda was review of the mandates of AU organs and strengthen the working methods of the African Union Peace and Security Council. The report from the retreat will undergo consideration by the AU Policy Organs before being presented for deliberation by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

For the full transcript of President Charumbira’s speech at the AU Retreat on Institutional Reforms in Kigali, please visit the official PAP website.


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