Audit Committee cites irregularities in Pan African Parliament operations

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MIDRAND, South Africa:

An audit committee has highlighted irregularities in the running of the Pan African Parliament and asked the Bureau, the top administrative unit, to urgently resolve the case of the Clerk to Parliament for him to give strategic direction to the Secretariat.

The Committee on Audit and Public Accounts (CAPA) observed that there is non-compliance of PAP with the African Union procurement guidelines; a high turnover of Clerks to Parliament; inadequate staffing and a lack of a disaster recovery plan (DRP) and business continuity plan (BCP).

The DRP and BCP are meant to safeguard the activities of PAP and to ensure that disruption of its activities is mitigated in case of any unforeseen events that may impact on its ability to continue in existence or functioning as an organ of the AU.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Sekou Fantamadi Traore (Mali), presented the Report for the period until the end of December 2018 to a sitting of the PAP plenary on Wednesday, 9 October 2019.

He said that instability in the position of the Clerk might lead to ineffectiveness of PAP operations.

“The Bureau having the power to terminate the employment of the Clerk may undermine the independence of the Clerk and hence limit the ability of the Secretariat to discharge its duties,” said Hon. Sekou Traore recommending that “The position of the Clerk needs to be protected to ensure stability and effective service delivery in the administration of PAP.”

In parliamentary practice the world over, the Clerk of Parliament is the head of the technical wing composed of staff that provide support for legislators to effectively perform their mandate.

“The removal of the Clerk should not be as sole decision of President of the Bureau, as it is currently the practice. Rather, the Clerk can be removed by a majority consensus of two-third consensus of the Members of Parliament in Plenary,” said Hon. Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (Ghana), quoting from the external auditors report.

The Pan African Parliament has had four Clerks in a period of four years, a situation that has generated controversial debate in the plenary, often times pushing the President, Roger Nkodo Dang, to disassociate himself from having a hand in the impasse.

The committee observed that an unapproved amount of $515,901 was spent on accommodation, conference facilities and interpretation equipment during the first session of the Fifth Parliament held in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2018.

The Chairperson said that this was above the $100,000 threshold approved by PAP as provided by the AU Procurement Manual.

“It is a sign of deficiency in the internal control system of the PAP and would lead to lack of accountability and probity. Development partners and other stakeholders will not have confidence in the ability of the PAP to manage its funds to achieve value for money,” he said.

The committee also recommended a review of the PAP structure and to fill up vacant positions in the current structure as well as exploring the possibility of temporary short term employment of staff in areas that require urgent attention.

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