By Thoboloko Nts’onyane
MASERU – The Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) was greeted by the absence of Lesotho delegates on Monday this week, who were unable to attend due to budget constraints and delays in the appointment process by the country’s committees, this publication has learned.
This is not the first time that Lesotho delegates failed to show up in the continental parliament as previously it was due to lack of budget to shoulder the travelling and accommodation costs of delegates.
It is feared that this no show could raise concerns about Lesotho’s representation in the PAP as the country failed to be represented and make its voice heard on issues affecting the continent.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, Advocate Lebohang Maema KC said the process of nomination of candidates by political parties was delayed due to consultations among themselves for eventual formalization by the Business Committee.
Asked to commit a timeframe in which this process will have been committed, he said he does not know.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Hon Ts’epang Ts’ita Mosena also attributed the Lesotho delegates’ absence to budgetary limitations.
She said: “Parliament is fully committed to empowering its Honorable members through such platforms that strengthen their oversight function, and has indeed requested the necessary funding, but has unfortunately been denied the opportunity to advance its agenda fully with international bodies due to the constrained budget as approved by the Ministry of Finance. These are some consequences when parliament is not fully independent.”
The Deputy Speaker continued, “With the little funding allocated, we’ve sadly lost an opportunity for the plenary of the year, and we’re hopeful that by the next plenary our finance requests will have been heeded to. We also take note that with Lesotho being a dualist state, resolutions in our absence have to be adopted in parliament to be binding.”
Asked what impact this absence of delegates has on us as a country, Hon Mosena said: “Granted this is not a desirable situation and we hope it will be addressed for the seriousness of its impact and resolved sooner than later. We need accountability and effective oversight, which gets strengthened at bodies such as PAP.”
Lesotho new MPs of the 11th parliament are still to be sworn in as members of this continental parliament.
In the Senate, the member of PAP who is also returning is the Principal Chief of Phamong Chieftainess Nthati Bereng. She failed to attend as there were no other delegates from the National Assembly.
The continental parliament was addressed by the Chairperson of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) and President of the Union of Comoros, H.E. Azali Assoumani as the guest of honour.
He committed to supporting the PAP activities to enable it to realize its mandate.
PAP second ordinary sessions is slated to run from May 15 to June 2, under the AU theme for 2023: “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”.
PAP was established on March 18, 2004, following the African Heads of States meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the meeting which culminated in the adoption of the Malabo Protocol. All African states that have ratified this protocol have the representation of five parliamentarians per membership in this continental parliament, for a five-year term in office.
PAP is the AU’s legislative organ and it is charged with the mandate to make and implement legislation on behalf of the organ.