SA delegations congratulates new Pan-African Parliament president

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Fortune Charumbira.
Fortune Charumbira.
  • Zimbabwean senator Fortune Charumbira was elected president of the Pan-African Parliament.
  • The South African delegation to PAP congratulated him on his election.
  • Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is leading a delegation to the Parliamentary Network Conference of the Non-Alignment Movement in Buka, Azerbaijan.

Parliament's delegation to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) congratulated Fortune Charumbira on his election as PAP president.

Charumbira, a Zimbabwean senator and president of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs, was elected on Wednesday. His election followed a protracted battle over the principle of geographical rotation, which resulted in the abrupt breakdown of PAP's session in June 2021, with EFF leader Julius Malema a central figure in the chaos when he threatened a delegate from Mali.

The delegates from the Southern Africa Development Community were adamant there should be a geographic rotation of the president, while the Economic Community of West African States opposed this, saying it was not part of the rules and rejected legal advice which supported the implementation of this principle.

The previous two presidents were from West and Central Africa. The African Union Commission had to intervene and suspend the session as it descended into chaos over the disagreement.

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"I want us to come together; we need to immediately fight and destroy the divisions caused by these foreign languages in Africa imposed on us by outside continents and resulted in us identifying one another as Anglophones, Francophones and Lusophones," Charumbira said soon after his election, according to a press release from PAP.

"I am a president for everyone despite how you voted, it is high time we put our African people forward and do away with unnecessary conflicts. Together we can achieve more, we will only develop our continent when united and this is an essential thing for our people to see and experience in our lifetime."

Charumbira was seconded to contest for presidency of the PAP Bureau by his Southern Africa Caucus - which had ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina as its interim chairperson.

READ | Mugabe-era Zimbabweans who fled to Botswana lose political refugee status after court ruling

"We would like to congratulate Chief Charumbira on his election and we are looking forward to working with him and providing him with the necessary support to take the Pan African Parliament to greater heights," said National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo who led South Africa's delegation to PAP.

Masondo added they were relieved the election process was completed so the new leadership could focus on pursuing the values and principles guiding the existence of the PAP.

"We are happy that the process of reconstituting the continental parliament is complete, our focus now is to revive the PAP's drive for pan-African unity, collective prosperity, inclusive social and economic development, including regional and continental integration. 

"With Chief Charumbira at the helm we are confident that these aspirations of the people of the continent will not be a pipe dream," he said. 

Apart from Masondo and Majodina, South Africa's delegation included senior ANC MP Mathole Motshekga, EFF leader Julius Malema and DA MP Thembekile Majola.

READ | Pan-African Parliament should have rotational leadership, says Thandi Modise

Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula leads a delegation of MPs to the Parliamentary Network Conference of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) on Thursday and Friday in Buka, Azerbaijan.

The conference follows a resolution made by NAM Heads of State and Governments at their 2019 conference to recognise the strategic value of parliaments in translating international protocols and policies into national frameworks. 

They acknowledged with growing parliamentary diplomacy, parliaments must help domesticate the protocols and assist in ensuring their execution through effective executive oversight and broader government accountability.               

The conference theme is: "Boosting the Role of National Parliaments in Promoting Global Peace and Sustainable Development."

Mapisa-Nqakula leads a delegation comprising National Council of Provinces deputy chairperson Sylvia Lucas, ANC deputy chief whip Dorris Dlakude, ANC MP and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education Nompumelelo Mkhatshwa, DA MP Mergan Chetty, and UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa.

The NAM was formed by Heads of State and Government in 1961 to organise countries that were not aligned with the superpowers involved in a protracted cold war, to determine their policies and programmes as sovereign states with territorial integrity and peace, and to advance independence and colonialism and racism.

Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki had served as chairpersons of the NAM between 1998 and 2003, and since 2019, the current chairpersonship has been held by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

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