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Fireworks expected at Pan-African Parliament vote as Malawian candidate accuses South Africa of provocation

Pretoria – Malawian parliamentarian and presidential candidate at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Yeremia Chihana has lambasted South Africa for “endorsing” Zimbabwean Zanu PF Senator, Chief Fortune Charumbira in the hotly-contested bid for the highest office in the continental parliament.

Chihana has thrown the cat among the pigeons when he challenged the southern caucus’s nomination of Zimbabwe’s Chiefs Council president Charumbira as its official candidate and the Malawian surprised many when he also threw his hat into the ring.

“South Africa as a host country has shown bias towards Zimbabwe. South Africa is an independent country, they should have shown maturity and remember that they are a host country. When the (sitting) became hostile, members from the other countries decided to move out because we did not accept Pemmy [Majodina] as a candidate or ad hoc chair because it has been shown that the arrangement is provided by the camp in Harare that is fighting,” Chihana spoke to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika in Midrand.

Majodina is the African National Congress’ chief whip in the South African Parliament, and a vociferous member of the Pan-African Parliament. She has been elected as the interim chairperson of the Southern Region Caucus of the Pan-African Parliament.

“It has also shown that South Africa is taking advantage of being the host country. They have taken a side, that they are supporting Charumbira and by taking sides, it puts other countries in a very awkward position,” Chihana lamented.

On Tuesday, the proceedings at the continental legislative body were officially opened by African Union Commission chairperson Dr Moussa Faki Mahamat standing in for AU chairperson and Senegalese President Macky Sall, who was attending a G7 summit in Germany, together with President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, Zimbabwean legislator, Tatenda Mavetera was sworn in as a member to replace the outspoken Barbara Rwodzi who was appointed Deputy Minister for Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe’s former representative at the Pan African Parliament Barbara Rwodzi. Picture: Barbara Rwodzi/Twitter

On Wednesday morning, ahead of the elections, Chihana said he has submitted his nomination and it had been accepted.

“We will meet in the plenary. This is a president of Pan-African Parliament and not the president of Zimbabwe or a president of South Africa. The decision that South Africa is doing is a very provocative decision and that is why all the French-speaking countries have been saying we should move out of South Africa,” said Chihana.

“They are showing that they are biased towards candidates. Even the last violence, they were attributing it to South Africa’s laxity. But it is members of the Pan-African Parliament who are now chairing the bloc for Charumbira who caused that havoc (in May last year). I would ask AUC (African Union Commission) to intervene on why there was fracas in this Pan-African Parliament. It was the same South African members of parliament,” he said.

Chihana said Charumbira and Majodina must be investigated for the brawling during the bid to elect the president last year.

“Investigate Charumbira and investigate the acting ad-hoc chair, why she is perpetrating that violence even in the caucus. She perpetrated the violence to block us so that we would not be part of the team. We agreed because they are the host country. As a way forward for Africa, we need to look beyond South Africa because they if they keep on trying to bulldoze decisions, South Africa will not be the right venue for us,” he said.

The East African caucus at the Pan African Parliament is reportedly rallying behind Albino Aboug from South Sudan in today’s vote for the president of the continental parliament.

Southern Africa insists it is its turn for the presidency of the Pan-African Parliament because other regions in Africa have held the top post before. The rotation principle has been endorsed by the African Union.

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