Tempers flared again at the Pan-African Parliament sitting in Midrand on Monday with members halting the scheduled elections, complaining that they felt unsafe in South Africa.
“We want this parliament to be relocated to another country. We are going to be killed here in South Africa,” some members chanted.
“No relocation, no election,” others chanted.
On Friday, one of South Africa’s representatives in Parliament, Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema, had a heated exchange with another member and mentioned that he would “kill” that fellow parliamentarian.
Tension was palpable within the chambers of the legislative body of the African Union (AU) as members sit on Monday to elect new leadership amid fierce contestation.
On Friday, events came to a head after it was announced that the elections would not go ahead on Thursday as scheduled, as a staffer had tested positive for Covid-19. The elections were then postponed, igniting heated exchanges between the parliamentarians.
A visibly angry Malema, pointing his finger, could be heard threatening to tackle a fellow member wearing green.
Malema said: “What kind of leadership is this? Nonsense!”
“You are pointing me with a finger now? No, I will definitely kill you outside this building,” Malema shouted.
South African MPs, with Malema leading the charge, were of the view that the elections should be postponed, and the sitting adjourned immediately in line with set Covid-19 protocols.
Parliamentarians opposed to the postponement maintained that the said Covid-19 case was a strategy to postpone the term of office for the controversial incumbent, Cameroonian Roger Nkodo Dang.
In a statement after the adjournment on Friday, Vipya Harawa, clerk of the Pan-African Parliament, confirmed that there had been a temporary closure after the reported case of Covid-19.
“The Pan-African Parliament has temporarily shut down its premises after a staff tested positive for Covid-19. As a precautionary measure and in line with Covid-19 protocols, the precincts have been evacuated to allow for decontamination,” he said.
“Contacts are being traced and managed according to the South African Department of Health guidelines and protocols. All stakeholders are advised that the business of the fourth ordinary session of the fifth parliament will resume on Monday, 31 May 2021, with swearing-in of new members and election of the new Bureau.”
The Pan-African Parliament said it would continue to take precautionary measures aimed at protecting members of the parliament, staff of the secretariat as well as guests.