By Melvin Tejan Mansaray
Addressing the Floor of the Continental Parliament during the ongoing 4th Ordinary Session of the Fifth Pan-African Parliament (PAP) held on Wednesday 26th May 2021 in Midrand, South Africa, Honorable Solomon Sengehpoh Thomas, Leader of the Sierra Leone Delegation to PAP said that he was disturbed at how language is being used as a vehicle of division within the Parliament.
Hon. Thomas was contributing to the debate on the adoption of the Activity Report of PAP delivered by Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira, Acting President of the PAP.
Hon. Thomas opened his submission by thanking the Government and People of South Africa for hosting them in their country at a very difficult period of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the smooth running of global operations.
On the Activity report, he said “ I wholeheartedly accept this report Mr. President and Honorable Members. I wish to state that there need to look into the reports of Committees,” adding that there are serious issues to be considered.
“I will urge the incoming Bureau after the election to ensure that we have the formula to look into some of the critical decisions by Committees,” Hon. Thomas said.
He noted that as for the decisions of the PAP Acting Bureau, “ I should say that we can wholly accept that because the Bureau is a smaller unit.”
On his second point of note, Hon. Thomas said: “Ever since we came here, I was particularly disturbed by the kind of division we have demonstrated as an African Parliament.”
He said: “Interestingly, we have allowed ourselves to be divided along with the languages of the former colonial masters. It is a shame on all of us. We are not divided along with African languages, we have allowed ourselves to be divided along with the languages of our former colonial masters. We should be ashamed of ourselves.”
Hon. Thomas is the Deputy Speaker of the Sierra Leone Parliament, representing the governing Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) for a second inning.
However, acting PAP President Hon. Chief Fortune Charumbira in response to the numerous concerns registered by the MPs said that it is important for Member States to ratify the Malabo Treaty, focus on youth, women, and girls, the need for proper analysis on the divergent arguments on the rotation policy, PAP’s deep budget cut, relationship with the PRC and explained that the PAP employs the African Union policy on regional balance and rotation for the recruitment of the PAP staff.
It is apparent that on Thursday 27 May 2021 at 2 pm, the PAP will conduct elections for the President and Vice Presidents of its Bureau, which is expected to usher in new leadership for the Continental Parliament.