Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter
President of the Chiefs Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira, has thanked the SADC region for trusting him to lead the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) following his election on Wednesday.
In the process, Chief Charumbira made history by becoming the first PAP president from the Southern region.
He romped to a resounding victory after polling 161 votes from a possible total of 203 during elections held at a PAP session in Midrand, South Africa.
There were 31 abstentions and 11 spoiled votes.
Last year, the SADC region stood firm in demanding that the PAP presidency rotates, and parliamentarians led principally by now Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Barbara Rwodzi, and the South African legislator, Julius Malema, from the EFF party, fought hard during a PAP session, which later turned chaotic and the voting was abandoned.
This led to Wednesday’s vote, which was easily won by Chief Charumbira.
Speaking after his victory, Chief Charumbira said: “To my brothers and sisters in the Southern Regional Caucus, this victory is for you. For several years, you stood by me and consistently affirmed my nomination as your candidate.
“You withstood several attacks, sacrificed so much in terms of time, talent and resources to see that equity and fairness are restored at the Pan African Parliament. I won’t harbour any mistaken illusion that the struggle that preceded my election as president was about me.
“I cannot lose sight of your decision to entrust me and present me as the anchor of those values, principles and convictions that were manifested in the struggle that preceded my election today. I am honoured that you chose me and am more inspired by your support.”
Chief Charumbira called for unity and talked of the unfriendly visa regimes, which he said affects inter-country, intra-regional and inter-regional trade, integration and cooperation.
He said the visa regime does not only inhibit the free movement of people and goods, but also retards economic growth contrary to the set objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Africa is also faced with the emerging threats posed by corruption and illicit financial flows as well as the trans-boundary effects of these vices, which increase the cost of doing business in the continent.
“Poverty, internal displacement, resource conflicts, gender inequalities, unemployment and hunger also continue to stalk the continent, thereby increasing vulnerability,” he added.
Chief Charumbira said PAP was critical in addressing some of the challenges facing the continent.
Meanwhile, Mr Malema said the West or any other financiers partnering African institutions, have no right to dictate the politics of such organisations.
He made the remarks after concerns were raised that institutions not friendly to Zimbabwe could renege from supporting the PAP following the election of Chief Charumbira as the new leader.
Responding to questions from South African media regarding the risk of losing European funding after the election of Chief Charumbira, Mr Malema reiterated calls that African philosophy must not be swayed by the love for money.
“They can withhold it (funding), we are not going to be told by the people who are giving us money how to think, how to act. If they want to withdraw their money, they can withdraw it.
“This is not Zimbabwe, it’s Africa. We are dealing with continental politics and when you are dealing with continental politics, you look beyond a country’s politics. (Chief) Charumbira amongst all of us here, is the most well experienced person from our region.
“He has been with the institution, he knows it in and out, he knows the weaknesses of the institution, he knows the areas which need to be fixed,” said Mr Malema.
He said the PAP cannot overlook the necessary capacities of individuals which will take it forward on the basis of their country’s politics.
“I have no concern about the EU, if the EU wants to withdraw money because it wants to dictate to Africans what to do, that one I don’t have sympathy for, they can take their money, they can actually go to hell with their money,” he said.
Also speaking to the South African media, National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo, who led South Africa’s delegation to PAP, congratulated Chief Charumbira.
“We would like to congratulate Chief Charumbira on his election and we are looking forward to working with him and providing him with the necessary support to take the Pan African Parliament to greater heights.”