THE removal of Chief Fortune Charumbira from his position as president of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has raised the ire of the Zimbabwean government with information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana describing it as a “coup”.
In a letter dated 8 September 2023 addressed to Clerk of Parliament Lindiwe Khumalo, PAP director Emmanuel Afedor said the legislative institution would meet between 16 and 18 of October to fill the vacant post of president, first vice-president and fourth vice-president.
“Following the meeting held today, and chaired by the Acting President Hon. Dr. Ashebiri W. Gayo with participation by the Clerk of Parliament, Ms Lindiwe Khumalo, the Deputy Clerk-LBC, Mr. Gali Harou, the Acting Deputy Clerk-FAHR, Mr. Kenneth Akibate, and the director of the Bureau, Mr. Emmanuek K. Afedor, it was agreed that the Third Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament should take place on 16-18 October 2023,” read the letter copied to acting president Dr Ashebir Gayo, Miles Sampa, chairperson of CAPA.
“The main agenda would be elections to fill the vacant posts within the PAP Bureau for, President, First Vice President and 4th Vice President, per articles 11, 12 and 13 of the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Relating to the Pan African Parliament. This is therefore to ask you, per the instruction of the Acting President, to implement the collective decision taken during the meeting and based on the Protocol prepare for the holding of the Session on the dates above.”
Mangwana has not taken Charumbira’s removal lightly, describing his ouster as a “coup”.
“There have been a number of coups d’état on African soil in the last three years but nobody expected the African Union Parliament (PAP) to experience a disgraceful seizure of power. We all saw Chief Charumbira winning the presidency of PAP but he now finds someone in his office claiming to have taken over that presidency. We need order in the continental body,” Mangwana said on his X social media handle.
While the PAP did not specify reasons for Charumbira’s removal, its rules of procedure outlines that a president can be removed from office on several grounds.
It reads: “The Office of the President or Vice-President shall become vacant if he or she: (a) dies; (b) resigns in writing; (c) is unable to perform his or her functions for reasons of physical or mental incapacity; (d) is removed on grounds of misconduct; (e) ceases to be a Member of the National Parliament or other deliberative organ; (f) is recalled by the National Parliament or other deliberative organ; (g) or ceases to be a Pan-African Parliamentarian in terms of Article 19 of Protocol.
“Removal on the grounds stipulated in 8 (c) or (d) above shall be on a motion to be decided on by secret ballot and supported at the end of debate by two-thirds majority of all the Pan-African Parliamentarians.
“In the case of removal under the ground stipulated in 8 (c), the motion shall, in addition, be supported by a medical report. (10) Until such time that a vacancy in the Office of the President is filled, the Vice-Presidents shall act as President according to the order of their ranking. (11) A vacancy in the office of the President or Vice-President shall be filled at the sitting of Parliament immediately following its occurrence.”
Under the procedure, Charumbira would not qualify to be president of PAP as his term expired on 23 August when Zimbabwe’s Parliament was dissolved to pave way for the general election.
In July, Chief Charumbira was under fire for breaching African Union procedure in making appointments to the PAP.
The sincerity of AU leaders and institutions in fighting corruption came under scrutiny after the appointment of controversial Zimbabwean self-styled prophet Uebert Angel as PAP ambassador for interfaith dialogue and humanitarian affairs.
This was despite the fact that Angel had emerged as a leading role actor in Al-Jazeera’s documentary revealing Gold Mafia investigation scandal, which implicated President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his cronies in rampant gold smuggling, money laundering, corruption, as well as conspiracy to commit financial crimes.
In the first episode, Angel also exposed the role played by Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya in the gold smuggling syndicate, through a phone call in which she reveals that they use private jets to pick up gold as part of smuggling and money laundering activities. Rushwaya is Mnangagwa’s niece.
However, his appointment was revoked on August 28 by PAP acting president Dr Gayo Ashebir, who said the process was not tabled before any bureau.