CAPE TOWN, South Africa | “I will kill you outside. Outside of this room, I will kill you. I will kill you,” were words allegedly directed to a Malian lawmaker, Ali Kone, by South African lawmaker Julius Malema during the African Union’s (AU) parliamentary meeting.
With Mali’s suspension from ECOWAS, members were concerned over participation in the AU’s parliamentary election. The Malian delegates stated Mali isn’t suspended from the AU.
Several brawls over a ballot box during Monday’s meeting in Midrand, South Africa, come from a disagreement over the procedure to elect the next president of the AU. Eventually, AU leaders proceeded to halt the elections while they sort out their dispute.
The African Union consists of 55 member states in Africa. The AU’s official launching in 2002 propelled it as a replacement to the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Ironically, its mandate is “To promote the unity and solidarity of the African States.”
According to reports from the AU, the postponement of previous parliamentary elections was due to a staffer testing positive for COVID-19.
In an interview with SABC, Pemmy Majodina of the South African delegation stated, “It’s quite a rough and chaotic situation now, and the matter is about the election and rotational principle.” The essence of the principle states that elections should be equitable according to regional representation and rotation.
In a previous meeting, rotating the presidency around Africa became contentious when a group from South Africa demanded the AU Presidency comes from different regions – the West African faction – which includes Mali appears to reject this view.
“No rotation, no election,” “They will not force an election on us,” were chants coming from some members.
In an interview, the leader of the South African delegation, Amos Masondo, stated, “…when it comes to electing leadership, there is a principle of rotation. That is, no one region should have absolute power to run the affairs of the African Union”.
The fight in chambers over a ballot box has many Africans wondering if there is unity across Africa.