The Pan African Parliament has re-elected Roger Nkodo Dang, from Cameroon, for another term as president of the continental parliamentary body.
In elections held last week, Nkodo Dang retained his presidential seat after polling 133 votes, beating Zimbabwe’s Chief Fortune Charumbira who polled 47 votes, while Mostafa El Gendy from Egypt got 44.
Chief Charumbira was representing the SADC region, having garnered support from across the region to wrestle the PAP presidency from West Africa. His campaign team included Namibian parliamentarian McHenry Venaani.
Nkodo Dang said Africans should embrace democracy and unite.
“I am hoping this is a lesson to my fellow Africans across the continent that democratic processes must be embraced and appreciated,” he said.
Chief Charumbira conceded defeat and congratulated Nkodo Dang for his victory.
“This is a process in a democracy. The will of the people has been seen through the numbers. I congratulate Honourable Nkodo Dang for being trusted to head parliament for another term,” said Charumbira.
However, the re-election of Nkodo Dang has been critisised as a threat to the idea of rotational leadership in the organisation.
“We condemn such behaviour. The PAP needs to ensure that it fully implements the rotational system to ensure that each region is afforded the opportunity to serve in the presidency,” said South African MP Mandla Mandela.
Felix Okot Ogong of Uganda supported Mandela’s sentiments. “The unwritten law in the PAP is that the presidency should be rotational. I think we now need to amend our rules to make the presidency rotational so that other regions get to the helm of leadership at the PAP,” said Ogong.
The PAP president is, however, under fire following allegations of corruption and marginalising staff from other regions.
His critics want a wide-ranging forensic audit to investigate allegations of mismanagement of funds, and suspicion that the president used PAP resources to campaign in 31 countries over three months purporting to do work for the parliament.
Meanwhile, the PAP and the United Nations, through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), have partnered to address food security and malnutrition challenges across the continent.
Speaking during the sixth ordinary session of the fourth PAP parliament in Midrand, South Africa, head of PAP’s committee on rural economy, agriculture, natural resources and environment, who is also the first vice-president of the Pan-African Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (PAPA-FSN), Jacqueline Amongin, said stakeholders from PAP and FAO attended an inception workshop to emphasis the important role that politicians play in the fight against hunger.
“The inception workshop was meant to build our members’ capacity and awareness on food and nutrition security in Africa, including kick-starting the activities as per the memorandum of understanding between PAP and FAO in championing the agenda on ending hunger by 2021 through the smart legislative engagements,” said Amongin.
The workshop was held under the theme “Strengthening capacities of parliamentarians in Africa for an enabling environment for food security and nutrition including the right to adequate food”.
The gathering was a follow-up to a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) signed between FAO and PAP titled “Strengthening capacities of parliamentarians in Africa for an enabling environment for Food Security and Nutrition,” last October.
Also in attendance were government representatives from the four project pilot countries of the African Union (AU), namely Cameroon, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Overall, it is envisaged that the TCP project would strengthen the capacities of the members of the PAP to position food security and nutrition at the highest levels of the political and legislative agendas.
FAO country representative in South Africa, Lewis Hove, said parliamentarians play a critical role in addressing issues of food security.
“Evidence has shown that food security and nutrition policies and frameworks that are anchored in legislation are more effective and sustainable. Parliamentarians are, therefore, critical partners in the fight to eradicate poverty and malnutrition given their legislative, budgetary and policy oversight roles, among others,” said Hove.
The project, with funding of US$350,000, started in October 2017 and is expected to end in October 2019.
The region is affected by the multiple burdens of malnutrition and is not on course to meet most of the World Health Assembly (WHA) Nutrition targets for the next decade, even though for some countries the prospects are better.
African leaders in 2014, through the Malabo Declaration and its implementation strategy and roadmap, committed themselves to reducing malnutrition to below 10% in Africa and underweight in children under 5 years to below 5% by 2025, with the aim of eliminating hunger in Africa in the next decade.
The TCP is designed to enhance the capacities of parliamentarians to prioritise the eradication of malnutrition and elimination of all forms of hunger on the continent.
Additionally, it seeks to reinforce consensus on the importance of addressing the structural challenges to achieving food security and nutrition through a human rights-based approach, and strengthen national capacities to create the enabling legal and institutional environment for improved food security and nutrition.
The project supports FAO Strategic Objective 1: Contribute to the Eradication of Hunger, Food Insecurity and Malnutrition, and Regional Initiative 1: Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025.