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African legislators told to look beyond South Africa for civil society engagements

Staff  Reporter

JOHANNESBURG – Members of the Pan-African Parliament members have requested the Bureau to consider engaging civil society organisations from other countries and not always use those based in host country South Africa.

While debating the Pan-African Parliament President’s Activity Report covering October 2018 – April 2019, legislators felt it was unfair for PAP to concentrate on organisations based in South Africa, stating there were also quality and equally capable civil societies in other countries.

The report was presented to the house by President Roger Nkodo Dang in Midrand Tuesday.

During the same seating, Nkodo Dang, also spoke on the Cameroon crisis explaining that PAP had little room to maneuver, as battlelines have been drawn, especially around language, in the Central African country.

Around 80 percent of the country speaks French, while the remainder uses English. For decades, Francophones and Anglophones lived in relative harmony, but over the past two years, violence spurred by the linguistic split has brought Cameroon to the brink of a civil war.

Hundreds have died, close to 500,000 have been displaced, and activists have been rounded up and jailed.

The government claims armed English-speaking separatists who want to create a new nation called Ambazonia have terrorized civilians and attacked government forces, prompting the military to retaliate against them, but the Ambazonians and human rights groups have laid counter-accusations, stating government has over the past years killed thousands of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands in widespread human rights abuses.

“PAP’s hands are tied in the Cameroonian crisis.The problem is we dont know who is leading the charge. When there is a crisis such as the one happening in Cameroon. We dispatch a team to investigate however, we havent found joy thus far,” said Dang.

Members also called upon the Bureau to in its finance dealings amid a plethora of other allegations which include corruption allegations which threatens to engulf the institution.

Legislators also advocated for the efficiency of the organ with regards to its relationship with African Union which fails to recognise it as one of the organs fostered by the treaty.

Nkodo Dang revealed PAP had an approved budget of US$18.5 million in 2019 and had an increased budget set to cater for regional parliamentary conferences, ratification of African Union legal instruments and holding of public hearings.

He also indicated the financial support that came through from the PAP secritariat.He said they offered the support in timely and effective manner especially in Kigali as well as the statutory committee meetings in March 2019.

“The PAP endeavored to maintain sound and effective financial and budget management, which are yet to be confirmed by the outcomes of the external audit of the 2018 financial statements, and provided timely support to the 2019 year operational and statutory activities,” said Nkodo Dang.

The report was detailed in its presentation of activities undertaken by PAP with its committees in the realisation of its set goals. However, members were not pleased by the President’s failed report into investigations on corruption following two earlier sessions held in Sham-el-Sheik in Egypt in 2016 and Kigali, Rwanda as promised.

In Kigali it is reportef that staff of PAP were denied leaving the country before settling their bills.

“We need more transparency. In Egypt, I moved a motion to set up a committee to investigate allegations of corruption, and the President promised to handle the matter, which he should have reported about now,” said Hon. Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (Ghana).

“In Kigali, [PAP] staff were detained and the finance officer stayed behind for a week until our bills were paid. We need to know the agreements signed by PAP and governments hosting our meetings for us to avoid these embarrassing situations.”

Motions to have the meeting held in camera to discuss matters of finance and allegations of corruption was however, poured cold  water by the President as he  suggested that the House first wait for the report of the Committee on Audit and Public Accounts.

During the same sitting, PAP suspended two representatives from Cote d’Ivoire, who took oath at the start of the second ordinary session of the fifth Parliament yesterday.

The legislators who were designated by the country’s Senate raised the number of their representatives to seven, two more than what is provided for by the Protocol establishing PAP and the PAP Rules.

However, Prof. Ogenga-Latigo reasoned that Parliament erred in law in suspending the members.

“In Uganda, I am a Member of the Rules Committee. These two members who were sworn in outside the prescribed number are not legitimate members of this House. You cannot therefore just suspend them because they are not members. As it is now, unless Cote d’Ivoire withdraws the five who are already members, what transpired is null and void in law. That is the position,” Ogenga-Latigo said.

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