WATCH | Pan-African Parliament erupts into chaos ... again

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  • ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodiena threatened to lay criminal charges against a Senegalese delegate.
  • Members of the Pan-African Parliament were meant to appoint a new president.
  • The southern African caucus is demanding reform, saying the position should be on a rotational basis.
  • West and Central African members have demanded that elections go ahead.

A dispute over who should be the president of the Pan-African Parliament on Monday ended with allegations of gender-based violence as members tussled.

At the height of the fight, ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodiena vowed to lay charges of gender-based violence against Senegalese politician Djibril War.

Majodiena said she was trying to stop a physical altercation between War and a member of the Zimbabwean delegation.

"I went in there to make peace, as I was trying to separate them. It was at that stage that I was attacked by honourable Djibril who is the chair of the rules, and he kicked me."

In an interview with the SABC, War denied intentionally kicking the South African MP.

"I had no intention of kicking her," he said, adding that he was trying to kick a phone held by a Zimbabwean who was trying to take a picture of him.

War apologised to Majodiena live on air, who in turn accepted the apology.

At one point during the altercation, War also tried to drag Zimbabwe’s Barbara Rwodzi from the speakers’ podium, where she was protesting against the continuation of the vote.

MPs rushed to the centre of the platform, pulling him away. It was during this incident that War tried to kick another MP.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, who caused chaos when he threatened another delegate last week, tried to play peacemaker.

"Let’s adjourn, call the AU to come speak to this... a man beats a woman," he said.

During the chaos, members of parliament continued to shout into their microphones.

"We’re being harassed by South Africans. An entire continent is being held hostage by South Africans."

"We are being threatened here by South African members of parliament. We do not feel safe here. No one is coming to our aid."

"Madame chair, there are armed persons circulating the room and we are not feeling safe," shouted another, alleging that security officers were entering the chamber.

The session was adjourned as MPs discussed the way forward.

Picking a new president

The continental parliament was meant to elect a new president from among the MPs, but a dispute over the rotation of that position led to bitter disagreement.

Members of the southern African delegation proposed the rotation, aimed at giving each of the five regions a turn to lead the executive.

An ad-hoc committee was appointed to conduct the electoral process, but the committee’s presentation was interrupted before an election could take place.

Yet, even among committee members, there was discord.  

"This election cannot proceed without the procedures and the advice that came from AU legal council. No rotation, no election, I declare,” said Rwodzi, also a member of the ad-hoc committee.

“The AU is the mother body of the Pan-African Parliament and we follow that,” said Rwodzi, shouting over committee chairperson Jaynet Kabila. Delegates shouted at Kabila, accusing her of bias toward Francophone countries.

ALSO READ | Pan-African Parliament to pick a new president amid fallout over Malema 'kill you' threat

Rwodzi continued to shout, “No rotation,  no election,” from the speakers’ podium and refused to leave it until fellow delegates led her away.

West African delegates shouted that southern Africa was delaying the election because they didn’t have the numbers, while southern African delegates shouted back that the Malian presidential candidate should be disqualified over the coup in that country.

“What can they teach us about democracy?” shouted a MP.

Kabila requested that police clear the room.

Earlier in the morning session, as the session resumed, acting president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the African Union supported the need for rotation.

“With comprehensive debate regarding the rotation of the president of the bureau of the PAP, all the members of parliament who contributed are unanimous on the principle of rotation,” said Charumbira, who is also the preferred candidate for the southern African caucus.

“For that reason, only countries from the northern and southern region are eligible,” he said.

That announcement was also met with jeers. Delegates demanded that the bureau step down immediately, interrupting Charumbira as he tried to continue the session before the lunch break.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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