Corruption allegations rock Pan African Parliament

African legislators have called for more transparency from the Bureau, the body charged with administration of the Pan African Parliament, following reports of corruption and embarrassing situations involving the institution.

The Bureau is chaired by the President (Speaker) of the Pan African Parliament and comprises four vice presidents and the Clerk to PAP.

Debating the PAP President’s activity report covering October 2018 – April 2019, members also called for the streamlining of the relationship between the institution and the African Union which does not fully recognize and respect it as one of the organs established by the Treaty.

President Roger Nkodo presented the Report to the House on Tuesday, May 7.

He said that PAP has an approved budget of $18.5 million in 2019 and had secured budgetary increases to cater for regional parliamentary conferences, ratification of African Union legal instruments and holding of public hearings. He also said that the Secretariat had also offered financial support to the operations of the PAP in a timely, effective and efficient manner including the session in Kigali and the statutory committee meetings in March 2019.

“The PAP endeavored to maintain sound and effective financial and budget management, which are yet to be confirmed by the outcomes of the external audit of the 2018 financial statements, and provided timely support to the 2019 year operational and statutory activities,” said Nkodo.

The Report detailed activities undertaken by PAP and its committees in fulfillment of its objectives including the promotion of integration and development in Africa, strengthening its institutional capacity and promoting human rights, democracy and good governance.

Members were however unhappy that the President had failed to report about investigations into corruption following two earlier sessions held in Sham-el-Sheik in Egypt in 2016 and Kigali, Rwanda as promised.

It is reported that in Kigali, staff of PAP were blocked from leaving the country due to failure to pay for expenses as agreed by the host government. PAP held its first ordinary session of the fifth Parliament in Kigali from October 18 to November 3, 2018.

“We need more transparency. In Egypt, I moved a motion to set up a committee to investigate allegations of corruption, and the President promised to handle the matter, which he should have reported about now,” said Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (Ghana).

“In Kigali, [PAP] staff were detained and the finance officer stayed behind for a week until our bills were paid. We need to know the agreements signed by PAP and governments hosting our meetings for us to avoid these embarrassing situations,” he added.

A proposal by members to have the meeting held in camera to discuss matters of finance and allegations of corruption was however not carried as the President suggested that the House waits for the report of the Committee on Audit and Public Accounts.

During the same sitting, PAP suspended two representatives from Cote d’Ivoire, who took oath at the start of the second ordinary session of the fifth Parliament yesterday. The legislators who were designated by the country’s Senate raised the number of their representatives to seven, two more than what is provided for by the Protocol establishing PAP and the PAP Rules.

However, Prof. Ogenga-Latigo reasoned that Parliament erred in law in suspending the members.

“In Uganda, I am a Member of the Rules Committee. These two members who were sworn in outside the prescribed number are not legitimate members of this House. You cannot therefore just suspend them because they are not members. As it is now, unless Cote d’Ivoire withdraws the five who are already members, what transpired is null and void in law. That is the position,” Ogenga-Latigo said.