Members’ Safety Of Critical Importance to the Pan African Parliament 2
The recent involvement of four Honourable Members of Parliament (MPs) in a robbery and shooting is of grave concern to the Pan African Parliament (PAP), says President of the PAP, Hon. Roger Nkodo-Dang. Addressing MPs in plenary during the second day of PAP’s sub-committee meeting, President Nkodo-Dang, said the Parliament has escalated the matter to South African authorities.
Today’s attendance of senior Members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Parliament, was proof that PAP took the issue very seriously, President Nkodo-Dang reassured members. Deputy Provincial Commissioner for Gauteng Police Operations, Major-General Eric Nkuna, accompanied by four police generals, assured Members that he would make their safety his personal responsibility. “I would like to say to the House, ‘Your life is our life; your safety is our service’. As the Police, we want to make sure wherever you go, you are safe,” the Major-General reiterated in addressing the plenary debate. He informed the PAP that the Police had developed an integrated operational plan, and requested that MPs provide clear communication to the SAPS about their whereabouts and itineraries to ensure that police deployment can be strengthened during visits to South Africa. He further enthused that parliamentarians should feel safe to continue with their business and deliberations as usual, while the Police takes care of their safety. After Major-General Nkuna’s address, MPs took the floor to express their apprehension about the recent incident. His appeal has been received with mixed reactions from the House. Several MPs emphasised that security of African parliamentarians is a political and diplomatic issue, and that both the PAP and the Republic of South Africa have to sharpen their focus on this matter. They echoed the view of Hon. Muntaka Mubarak from Ghana, who said that the host agreement with South Africa has to be reviewed. “We must hold the host nation accountable to the terms,” added aid Hon. Mubarak. Hon. Rachel Shebesh from Kenya said the fact that the South African police commander and his delegation did not stay to listen to Parliamentarians’ response to his appeal, was unfortunate. She stated that the PAP’s Sergeant of Arms has to liaise more closely with South African police commanders to tighten up the security of its members.
Hon. Shebesh further said that the House was “skirting around the issue of the host agreement”, and that the PAP has to be prudent on how it goes forward to review the diplomatic agreement. Hon. Suleiman Sisay from Sierra Leone expressed his concern about PAP Members’ safety when they attend the Parliament’s next sitting to be held in Cairo, Egypt in October 2016. President Nkodo-Dang responded by saying that MPs’ safety is receiving high-level political will both in South Africa and Egypt. He said South African President Jacob Zuma has said during a recent visit to Kigali, Rwanda, that he is committed to meet with PAP as soon as the country’s local government elections has passed. He further said that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has guaranteed members’ safety in a letter to PAP, which he is willing to share with members. Last week, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement that the security and safety of all Members of Parliament is of paramount importance to South Africa and its Parliament. “In ensuring the safety of our public representatives to fulfil their constitutional mandate our Parliament will work with the PAP to assess the safety and security of Members and address any weaknesses that may exist,” the statement said. Hon. Hunadi Mateme, a South African MP and representative of the PAP has addressed members, saying that the South African government has given their full support to the MPs and their families affected by the incident. She confirmed that the matter was receiving high-level governmental attention, and that it was an administrative issue. The MPs, one from Senegal and three from Namibia, were en route from OR Tambo International Airport to their hotel in Sandton on 28 July 2016 when the incident took place.