Editorial

Pan-African Parliament has abused our hospitality

20 May 2018 - 00:00 By Sunday Times

When the idea of having a unicameral parliament for the continent was mooted, Africa had hoped this would be a platform for leaders from all regions to come together to find solutions to the myriad challenges bedevilling our continent. The establishment of the Pan-African Parliament offered public representatives an opportunity to engage one another in a structured way.
While its ultimate aim was to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, for now it plays an advisory role to the AU on issues of democracy, good political, economic and corporate governance, and regional integration.
Former president Thabo Mbeki, one of the foremost proponents of an African renaissance, is among those who worked so hard to see that dream realised. After years of lobbying and horse-trading, the parliament was established in 2004. South Africa offered to host the legislature in Midrand and support it financially.Almost 15 years later, we are still spending millions to support it. Over and above hosting the legislature at Gallagher Convention Centre, we are also responsible for providing accommodation and for transporting its president.
This week, members of this parliament met and re-elected Roger Nkodo Dang of Cameroon as president for a second term. This is despite Dang having flatly refused to table a close-out report about the institution and the state of the continent. Dang also refused to release the institution's financial report. Details of the financial report are contained in an article elsewhere in this edition. It is based on reports by the institution's own internal audit and public accounts committee from 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The reports paint a grim picture, revealing how South Africa has been throwing hundreds of millions of your tax rands into the hole that is the Pan-African Parliament. That its members decided to re-elect Dang, even though he is accused by his own fellow parliamentarians of being corrupt, is an indictment - not only of this institution but of Africa as whole.
This is unacceptable. Dang must be held to account and we expect all the South African representatives to start asking all the difficult questions.

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