Monday, 15 October 2007

PAP members fear for safety

Officials from the South Africa-based Pan African Parliament (PAP) on Wednesday expressed fears for their safety after a number of members fell victim to violent attacks.

"There have been several incidents of robbery at gunpoint and threats to members and staff," PAP president Gertrude Mongella told a media briefing ahead of Monday's resumption of work at the parliament, which sits twice a year.

"At least three members have had their cars stolen. They are fearful about their security in its South African headquarters," she added.

Senior PAP official Merumba Werunga added: "More than 10 members of the PAP have been attacked in their hotels and guest houses while attending plenary or committee meetings."

he latest incident had happened overnight when a staff member was robbed at gunpoint in his home which was cleaned out, Werunga added.

The continental body, an African Union agency yet to acquire legislative powers, is scheduled to begin its eighth session on Monday at its headquarters in Midrand, situated between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Mongella said there was no evidence that members were being specifically targeted and there was no intention to move the parliament from South Africa, where around 50 people are murdered every day.

"We are going to stay and work with the South African government to ensure our members and staff are secure."

As well as voicing safety fears, Mongella said the PAP was struggling financially as a result of shortfalls in promised finances, leading to the cancellation of a planned recent mission to Zimbabwe.

"We are given such a small amount of money that cannot sustain the expensive environment of South Africa," she said.

The PAP, which began without a budget in 2004, was promised $5-million (€3.7-million) in 2005, but got only $3-million from the AU, its mother body.

Mongella, a Tanzanian MP, said the parliament received $9-million in total last year despite having budgeted for $11.9-million.

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