Chaos that erupted during the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) meeting this past week have cast doubt on the much touted African unity, further undermining the viability of the institution’s (PAP) future as colonial legacy looms large.
Member States are haunted by their colonial legacy, with the past becoming a stumbling block to meaningful progress as far as cooperation is concerned.
While PAP does not wield significant power over Member States in terms of its resolutions, its leadership is highly sought-after by the Francophone countries such that they are not willing to let it pass to other regions.
Following this week’s episode of PAP discussions in South Africa, Botswana has indicated that it is in full support of the African Union’s (AU) decision to suspend for a month all activities of the Parliament to create conducive conditions for peaceful, free and regular electoral processes aiming at renewal of its leadership.
The Clerk of PAP, Vipya Harawa, after the events on Wednesday, suspended the 4thsession of the fifth African Union Parliament meeting. This followed advice from the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat through a letter dated 01 June 2021.
The suspension of PAP proceedings followed disagreements punctuated by disruptions that transpired during the procession of the plenary on 31st May and 1st June as PAP was looking to elect the President and Vice Presidents of its bureau.
In response to the mayhem, Chairperson of the AUC noted: “I have been following the last evolution of electoral process of the Pan African Parliament, it doesn’t go well. The current process sends a very negative image of the Parliament and subsequently of the entire African Union”.
Moussa recommended (to the PAP Clerk) that the activities of the parliament be suspended for a month to create conducive conditions for peaceful, free and regular electoral process aiming at renewal of its leadership.
From the discussions of PAP members it was evident that the bone of contention was who should be the Chairperson, with the bloc from Southern Africa insisting it should be awarded the baton to honour the framework of leadership rotation.
Other regions insisted on voting. For a long time, the leadership of PAP has been dominated by other blocs, especially from the francophone nations who have more numbers in the assembly. The rotational framework is meant to deal with the equity question because by relying on the democracy thumb rule of voting, English speaking African nations will find difficult to lead PAP.
Speaker of the South African National Assembly, Thandi Modise was one of those who were adamant that PAP should follow rotational leadership framework.
Botswana’s delegation at the meeting in Midrand, South Africa. Botswana was led by Jwaneng-Mabutsane legislator, Mephato Reatile. He was however not available for comment on the latest turmoil. Reatile was accompanied by Simon Mavhange, Friction Leuwe and Balete Paramount Chief, Kgosi Mosadi Seboko.
Reatile also affirmed Botswana’s position. He said it is the principle of the AU for the leadership of PAP to be held on rotational basis. “The decision to rotate leadership in all AU organs was taken in 2017. As a member of AU, we agree and abide by this resolution.” Reatile noted that Botswana as a small nation with no numbers nor influence abides by this resolution because it gives its citizens a chance to lead organs such as PAP, NEPAD and others. Meanwhile he said the suspension was the right call because tempers were flaring and things were likely to escalate out of control.
He also indicated that SADC also adopted a similar position and as Botswana representatives they are bound to support it.
When asked to comment on what had transpired at the meeting, a member of Botswana’s PAP, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who nonetheless did not attend the meeting had his views.
“I totally support the action of the Southern region caucus to insist on the principle of rotation. PAP must be inclusive in its rules and procedures,” said Gobotswang who is yet to be sworn in.
Initially the government suspended external travels by public officers including MPs which meant that Botswana MPs were likely to miss the meeting.
“However, upon realizing the absence of Botswana MPs when Zimbabwe was contesting for the position of President will backfire on the Magosi campaign, government through parliament somersaulted and pushed for attendance of MPs,” said Dr Gobotswang.
He indicated that he decided not to travel to Midrand to attend the meeting because his health comes first and wants to lead by example before the nation.
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP), also known as the African Parliament, is the legislative body of the African Union and held its inaugural session in March 2004.
The PAP exercises oversight, and has advisory and consultative powers, lasting for the first five years. Initially the seat of the Pan-African Parliament was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but it was later moved to South Africa.
Its objective is to implement the policies and objectives of the African Union, cultivate human rights and democracy in Africa, and make sure Member States adhere to good governance, transparency and accountability.
Additionally, PAP is meant to let the peoples of Africa know what the objectives and policies of the African Union are so that they might be able to integrate themselves continentally while still working within the framework of the AU and further to engender peace, security and stability on the continent.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.