Scuffles and a woman kicked — PAP descends into chaos over elections
A session of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) descended into chaos on Monday, with a ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina being kicked.
A male MP from Senegal kicked Majodina during a scuffle between MPs from francophone and anglophone countries over the election of new PAP leadership. The MP, identified by Majodina as “honourable Jibiri from Senegal”, later apologised — and told the SABC that he had been trying to kick a cellphone which was held by a male Zimbabwean MP who was filming him.
Majodina, who had earlier said she would be opening a case of assault against the Senegalese MP, accepted the apology.
“He was really apologetic and very sorry, and I told him this [would be] a serious case of gender-based violence in SA. You don't beat up a woman. He has apologised and I have no qualms in accepting an apology, because this was a hot fight and it might happen that I was caught up in that crossfire,” said Majodina.
Explaining what had happened earlier, she said: “I was sitting on my chair. I had been calling for order, saying, 'Let the house adjourn and call the AU [African Union] to come and intervene and conduct elections.' As I was doing that I could see there was a scuffle down there. People were fighting physically.”
Majodina said she then saw Jibiri in a scuffle with another MP and approached them to make peace.
“I was trying to separate them. It was at that stage that I was attacked by Jibiri, who is the chair of the rules [committee], and he kicked me,” said Majodina.
The chaos started over a debate on rotational leadership instead of direct elections.
A delegation of MPs from the southern and northern regions called for the implementation of the rotational policy, which would see the next leader of the continental parliament coming from these regions.
The East Africa and 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 the principle.
The outgoing PAP president Roger Dang is from Cameroon. There are allegations that he has been mobilising for a West African candidate to be elected.
“It's clear that there is undermining of the AU and here as the southern region and northern region. We are saying we cannot defy a principle that has been adopted,” said Majodina.
She said legal opinion had been sought from the AU, which confirmed that elections should be based on rotation to ensure unity and inclusion.
“That is what we are defending, rotation and nothing else. The countries and regions that want to bully us have been doing that for years, and we are saying we have to put a stop to it and allow every region an opportunity to lead this continent,” said Majodina.
The leader of the SA delegation to PAP, Amos Masondo, chair of SA's National Council of Provinces, shared Majodina's sentiment, saying the African Parliament has, over the years, been guided by the work of the AU.
“One of the principles of the AU when it comes to electing leadership is the principle of rotation. That no one, or a few, regions will be allowed to have all the power to run the work of the Pan African Parliament, or have power that cannot be mitigated by the regions that are in place.
“It's disappointing that at this critical point there are these differences and the temperature has gone a bit high,” said Masondo.
A woman who was chairing the session could be heard repeatedly saying the issue of rotation had not been brought to the attention of the ad hoc committee for approval.