With unconstitutional rule rearing its ugly head on the African Continent, the African Union ( AU) has been urged to avoid being seen as encouraging disgruntled elements of its Organs to use undemocratic means to have their way on issues.
This viewpoint was expressed in a statement released Wednesday by the Steering Committee of the African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN) about developments at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the legislative arm of the AU.
Noting severe concerns about the PAP’s ability to fulfil its mandate as a result of the severe funding shortage the parliament is grappling with, they stated that the latest fallout is the cancellation of the statutory August Committee Meeting of the Parliament and the possible cancellation of the Second Ordinary Session slated for October in Uganda. It thus called on the AU to do the needful by ensuring that adequate resources are given to the PAP to fully discharge its mandate of serving the people of Africa.
According to the APPN, despite the AU Executive Council acknowledging the budget shortfall in June 2022, funding remained insufficient. In 2022, PAP was allocated only a fraction of its supplementary budget request, and for 2023, the approved budget of USD 11,925,224 represents a decrease from the previous year.
“The PAP, for some time now, has been “crying for help” from the AU due to the inadequate budget allocation to the institution. The PAP President, Chief Fortune Churumbira and the Chairperson of the Monetary and Financial Affairs Committee of the Pan-African Parliament, Hon Mubarak Muntaka, have on numerous occasions emphasized the precarious situation the PAP finds itself in due to the funding issues.
In July 2023, the Pan-African Parliament wrote to the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson to appraise him that the 2023 PAP Budget, which was developed between December 2021 and March 2022 in compliance with the AU budget cycle, under the assumption that most of the activities of the Parliament 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, 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 was brought to the attention of the Union on the 4th MidYear Co-ordination Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia, in June 2022.”
The APPN also stressed that the request by the Executive Council to the Pan-African Parliament to work closely with National and Regional Parliaments to expedite the harmonisation of national legislative and policy frameworks to create an enabling environment for the realisation of the African free trade and free movement of persons cannot be realised when the PanAfrican Parliament is in disarray.
“Taking a cue from the former President of the United States of America, President Barrack Obama, the APPN strongly believes that what the PAP and any organ of the AU needs, “are not strong men,but rather strong institutions. And to build a strong institution means respecting its laid down structures and conflict resolution mechanisms.”