Chaos averted — Zimbabwean senator Fortune Charumbira elected Pan-African Parliament president

Chaos averted — Zimbabwean senator Fortune Charumbira elected Pan-African Parliament president
Newly elected President of the Pan-African Parliament Fortune Charumbira (centre). Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

Convening at its Midrand headquarters on Wednesday, the Pan-African Parliament finally elected its president — a year late. But not before the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, gave the MPs a stern lecture.

Sources said Zimbabwean senator and chief, Fortune Charumbira, was elected unopposed behind closed doors after South Sudan withdrew its candidate — MP and former child soldier Albino Aboug — evidently at the behest of AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, who presided over the elections. 

Faki had warned members of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) not to repeat the debacle of a year ago, when the elections plunged into chaos and violence and were abandoned.

Last year, like this year, Charumbira was southern Africa’s candidate. 

pan-african parliament delegates

Delegates before the opening ceremony of the Pan African Parliament ordinary session held in Midrand, Johannesburg on 28 June 2022. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

In 2021 he was set to run against a candidate from Mali, representing west Africa. But southern African MPs forcibly prevented the election from going ahead. They said that on the principle of regional rotation, west Africa should not field a candidate as it had previously held the presidency, as had central Africa and east Africa. So only southern and north Africa should contest the election, as neither had held the presidency.

The other regions disagreed, saying the PAP had never adopted the rotational principle. Chaos ensued and the elections were called off.

pan-african parliament swearing-in

The swearing-in of new members at the opening ceremony of the Pan-African Parliament ordinary session held at its headquarters in Midrand, Johannesburg on 28 June 2022. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

This year, the same basic problem arose and another chaotic election loomed. This time, South Sudan and east Africa rejected the rotational principle as illegal and insisted on putting up Aboug as a candidate.

Faki came to Midrand personally to supervise the election this year to avoid another debacle. 

He urged the MPs to accept the principle of regional rotation. Although he acknowledged this had never been fully legalised — as insufficient AU member states had ratified the enabling protocol — Faki insisted that the AU executive council of ministers and the AU Assembly of heads of state had endorsed the principle, which was in any case widely accepted in the AU. 

PAP masondo malema majodina

From left: Amos Masondo, Julius Malema and Pemmy Majodina before the opening ceremony of the Pan-African Parliament ordinary session. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

He called on west, central and east Africa to be reasonable and fair and to give other regions a chance to hold the top job.

But Faki’s main argument was that the principle of rotation should be adopted to get the elections done — to avoid another debacle and to salvage the reputation of the PAP and that of the continent, as last year’s aborted elections “… have tarnished the image of this institution and that of the entire continent.

“The unbearable scenes projected on TV and social media, which were seen by Africans, belittled the parliament. It was a disgrace for the continent.”

His lecture apparently did the trick. South Sudan grudgingly withdrew its candidate and Chief Charumira was elected unopposed. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Tarnished? Confirmed what those watching in disgust already believed: a puppet show to demonstrate how incompetent and chaotic the continent is.

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