JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwean senator Fortune Charumbira is the new Pan-African Parliament president after winning a one-horse race to land the hot seat.
Charumbira was elected on Wednesday with 161 votes in his favour.
The legislative arm of the African Union has been holding an ordinary session at its headquarters in Midrand since the beginning of the week.
On Wednesday, more than 200 delegates voted for the presidency of parliament, including the president and two vice-presidents.
Chief Charumbira’s candidacy for the presidency of the Pan-African Parliament appears to have gone well after garnering support from the southern and northern regions.
Charumbira is the first representative from the southern bloc to hold the top spot.
As the proceedings took place behind closed doors, insiders confirmed that a total of 203 ballots were counted, but 161 were valid.
There were 31 abstentions and 11 spoiled ballots.
Charumbira gave a brief acceptance speech, advocated unity among the diaspora and was immediately sworn in.
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At the time of publication, voting for additional Executive Committee members was still ongoing.
The first vice president is expected to be South Sudanese MP Albino Aboug after the southern and northern blocs agreed to support each other.
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters whose leader Julius Malema pushed for the elevation of Charumbira has congratulated the new man for becoming the first PAP leader from southern Africa.
“The Economic Freedom Fighters welcomes the election of Honorable Fortune Charumbira as the President of Pan-African Parliament (PAP).”
The EFF said Charumbira’s election marks a shift of the tide in the continent, where African states begin to have a greater appreciation that unity of the continent is paramount.
“We applaud our brothers and sisters from the Western and Eastern regions of Africa, for succumbing to superior logic and subjecting themselves to the will and statutes of the African Union (AU).
“The respective regions, could have opted to undermine the unifying call for rotation of the leadership of PAP, but instead complied. This is a sign that as a continent we are not too far from each other,” the EFF said in a statement.