By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MIDRAND – The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) President, Chief Fortune Charumbira, says parliament does not have a say in the appointment process of a member to represent their country at the continental parliament.

He says it is the prerogative of the national parliaments, who, after recommending the members, forward that list to PAP to swear them in as the delegation of their respective countries.

The President said this in response to a question posed by this publication to shed light on the process of recalling a member and under what circumstances a member can be withdrawn. This came after Lesotho’s delegate, Hon Lephoi Makara, had his membership withdrawn and was replaced by Hon Nku Mohlalisi.

According to Charumbira, the PAP merely receives and acts on appointments and recommendations from the national parliaments. His statement comes amidst mounting tension as the recalled board member seeks legal redress, challenging the legitimacy of his replacement.

“The protocol establishing Pan-African Parliament provides that each Member State shall designate five members. But what is instructive is that the protocol says these members are designated by the national parliament so they now say to this parliament [PAP] the following are five members. So as long as it comes from a legitimate office or an institution of that country which is a parliament, [PAP will swear them as members].”

Chief Charumbira continues: “The authority to deploy lies with the national parliaments. It is the [national] parliament that deploys and withdraws. We as PAP do not dispute the deployments.”

Makara contends that he did not receive any official notification, informing him of his withdrawal from PAP. He asserts that he only attended the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament in Midrand, South Africa where the continental parliament is hosted and was not informed by the National Assembly of changes to his status.

The PAP’s President reiterates that PAP does not influence the appointment process.

On the sixth of June, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Caucus sent correspondence to the parliament, informing it of the names of their members who had been recommended for appointment. It did mention the reason why Makara was being replaced by Mohlalisi.

The National Assembly then corresponded with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) indicating that Mohlalisi would replace Makara in the Lesotho delegation. However, Makara insists that he was chosen by the Speaker through the help of a party to represent Lesotho at the PAP and believes that if his position is to be contested, it should be decided by the parliament, despite the announcement made in the same parliament.

RFP canceled Makara’s membership in the continental parliament because he had defected to the majority opposition Democratic Congress (DC).

In its letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, RFP says the decision was made and concluded upon in its “Caucus meeting on the 6th of June 2024 and decided to recall Hon Lephoi Makara (Malimong) from Pan-African Parliament and replace him with Hon Nku Mohlalisi (Mpharane). This Caucus decision came after [the] Honourable Member for Malimong crossed the floor in the National Assembly from the governing party, RFP, to the party in the Opposition (Democratic Congress) on the 31st of April 2024.

“Your good Office is hereby advised that pursuant to Article 4 (3) of the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African economic community relating to the Pan-African Parliament read together with the Rules of Procedure of the Pan-African Parliament (Rule 6(5)), the Honourable Member of Malimong status has become incompatible with his Membership of our Parliament. His status in the House currently does not reflect diversity of political opinions therein because he has crossed the floor to the political party that is already represented at the Pan-African Parliament.”

During the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Sixth Pan-African Parliament, held in Midrand, South Africa, from 24 June to 5 July 2024, two members from Lesotho were sworn into the parliament. They are Senator Dr Thabiso Lebese, who replaced the late Chieftainess Nthati Bereng, and Mohlalisi, whose membership is being contested.

The 3rd Ordinary Session was held under the African Union (AU) Theme for 2024: “Educate an African Fit for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education Systems for Increased Access to Inclusive, Lifelong, Quality, and Relevant Learning in Africa.”

The Lesotho delegation also consisted of Hon Mamello Phooko, Head of Delegation, Hon ‘Mamookho Phiri and Hon ‘Maboiketlo Maliehe. There has to be five members per country and one of them has to be a female and another a member of the opposition party.

Article 17 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union established the PAP to ensure the “full participation of the African people in the development and economic integration of the continent”.