African Union Commission aware of Pan African Parliament’s financial incapacitation

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Staff Writer

His Excellency, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) was made aware of the financial incapacitation of the Pan African Parliament resulting in the latter’s inability to convene the statutory Committee Sittings in August as well as the plenary session in October/November due to the inadequacy of the budget allocated to PAP programmes in 2023.

In July 2023, the Pan African Parliament wrote to the AUC Chairperson to appraise him that the 2023 PAP Budget was developed between December 2021 and March 2023 in compliance with the AU budget cycle.

“At that time, the PAP was on suspension owing to disagreements on the principle of rotational leadership as well as the COVID-19 pandemic which was still at its peak. This, understandably, created uncertainties regarding when the PAP would return to full operational functionality.

“The effect of this uncertainty was that in crafting the 2023 PAP budget, the underlying assumption was that most of the activities would be held virtually owing to the restrictions imposed on physical meetings by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the suspension of the Parliament. However, through Your Excellency’s intervention, the PAP returned to full operational functionality after the elective session on 29th June 2022 and the Bureau has found itself hamstrung by a looming financial crisis which we brought to the attention of the Union on the 4th Mid-Year Co-ordination Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia, in June 2022,” Chief Charumbira told the AUC Chairperson.

The Executive Council of the AUC, at its 41st Ordinary Session held in Lusaka, Zambia, in June 2022, acknowledged the glaring inadequacy of the PAP Budgets for 2022 and 2023 and called on the PAP to be adequately resourced to enable the institution to fulfil its mandate. Sadly, this did not happen.

In 2022, out of a Supplementary Budget request of USD 1.7 million, the PAP was allocated USD 664 645. It is instructive to note that the 2022 Budget was inadequate and needed to be augmented through a Supplementary Budget despite the fact that the PAP had only resumed full operations on 29th June 2022, barely six months before the end of the year.

It is only logical, therefore, that the PAP would require more resources for 2023 as the Parliament would be at full operational functionality for the whole year. However, instead of getting a better resource envelope, the approved budget for 2023 is USD11 925 224, which, in essence, is a slight decrease on the 2022 initial budget of USD 11 992 597 and a decrease of 6% on the final budget for 2022 of USD12 657 242, which was increased through the supplementary budget mentioned above.

It is also instructive to note that of the USD 11.9 million budget for 2023, about USD 8.7 million goes towards staff emoluments leaving slightly over USD 3 million for the core business of Parliament, that is, statutory Plenary sessions and Committee sittings, Bureau activities, MPs missions and oversight programmes of the fifteen (15) Permanent Committees, the Women’s Caucus and the Youth Caucus.

The Chairperson of the Committee on Finance and Monetary Affairs, Hon. Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, reporting in plenary in May on the 2023 PAP Budget, highlighted the financial challenges facing the Pan African Parliament in 2023 and 2024. He revealed that drawing from precedence, the amount of money that had been spent by PAP during the first half of the year in 2022 was US$1.7 million, yet PAP had been given US$900,000 to operate for the whole year in 2023.

“As we speak, we have exhausted all the US$900,000 because we are supposed to have two Sessions in a year, which is the May Session and the October Session. However, with just the May Session, we have almost exhausted all the US$900,000. It is understandably so because if we look at 2022, with half-year performance, we were able to use our US$1.7 million.

Zeroing in on the 2024 PAP Budget, Hon. Muntaka revealed that the situation was likely to be even worse because when PAP drafted the Budget approved in March, the Bureau was supposed to have US$2 million to operate for the whole year but with the new ceiling, it was left with only US$500,000.

The Women’s Caucus was supposed to have US$200,000, but it was left with only US$25,000. The Youth Caucus was supposed to have US$178,632, but only had US$25,000. The Regional Caucuses such as the Central Caucus, were supposed to have about US$300,000 to operate, but they were left with only US$40,000 to operate.

“Colleagues, you have seen clearly what is happening now. If we do not have a strategy as an institution on our financial survival, I can rest assure all of us that this institution is on an emergency bed, on its way to death. Unless each and every one of us rises up to this occasion and try to do the very best that we can.

“Hon. Colleagues, these are the observations of our committee. This report is for you to take note of the predicament PAP finds itself in. From our deliberations with the PRC and the F15 on the proposed budget, it is evident that the F15, who have the utmost say on the allocation of Union funds, do not understand how Parliament operates. It is with this little knowledge that they assume we are duplicating activities of the Union and in effect, would rather fund other organs than the PAP. They are of the opinion that without full legislative powers, the activities PAP is undertaking are beyond its capacity,” he said.

The above revelations pour cold water on the propaganda being spearheaded by a social media pretender and liar, Joseph Kalimbwe, to the effect that the PAP President, Chief Charumbira, was abusing finances at the continental legislative organ.

With Chief Charumbira set to take his oath of office as a Senator in Zimbabwe on Thursday 7 September 2023, he will proceed to take his full position as the President of the Pan-African Parliament.

Those spreading malice to tarnish the image of Chief Charumbira and that of the Pan-African Parliament will be exposed and put to shame.

Dr. Ashebiri Gayo from Ethiopia, the Second Vice President of the PAP, who imposed himself as the acting president of the continental legislative body, is believed to be running a smear campaign against Chief Charumbira, on false hope of usurping power.

Efforts by this publication to ascertain why the legislator opted for a combative approach against Chief Charumbira were futile as he was not responding to our calls and messages.

Rule 19 (1) of the PAP Rules of Procedure provides two criteria for acting “ranking and rotation.” It is not ranking only. Hon. Gayo acted as President as recently as March when the President was away on official business.

The lot this time fell on the 3rd Vice President, Hon. Dos Passos to act, with or without the President’s memo and Hon. Gayo disrespected that because of the agenda he is pushing. Even if we use raking as the criteria, the 1st Vice President is more senior and should be the acting President, not Hon. Gayo. So if we are to refer to the Rules that is the position – both by raking and rotation Hon. Gayo is not the Acting President.