The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, welcomes the appointment of Lindiwe Khumalo as the new Clerk of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). This appointment comes at a crucial juncture for the PAP. Over the past couple of years, uncertainty and institutional challenges have persisted, including the presence of an acting Clerk for over a year.

The PAP, based in Midrand, South Africa, plays a vital role in promoting good governance, democracy, and human rights in Africa. The PAP Clerk, who provides leadership in the management of PAP's day-to- day operations, is proposed by the PAP Bureau and approved the Members of the PAP (MPAPs). Strong political leadership is essential for the effective functioning of this esteemed institution. The Parliament must operate with a clear vision and strategic direction to address the continent's diverse challenges.

The appointment of Lindiwe as Clerk presents a unique opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of this vital continental institution. By assuming this pivotal role, she has the potential to shape the political discourse and decision-making processes within the PAP. Her previous experience as the Acting Executive Secretary to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Commission) further underscores her expertise and capacity to navigate complex political landscapes. Lindiwe Khumalo previously served as the Chief Operations Officer, and later as the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Human Rights Commission. She also has served as Technical Advisor to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC).

Against this backdrop, the Centre anticipates that Lindiwe's appointment will serve as a catalyst in strengthening the operations and functioning of the organisation, both administratively and politically.

The Centre extends its heartfelt congratulations to Lindiwe on her well-deserved appointment. As an alumna of the Centre’s Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA), her appointment holds a special significance for us, reflecting the Centre’s enduring impact on shaping dynamic leaders. Moreover, we commend the PAP for breaking new ground in gender representation by appointing the first female Clerk since the PAP’s establishment in 2004. This milestone is notable, as it challenges the prevailing gender disparities within decision-making spaces.

The Centre pledges its continued support and collaboration to ensure that the PAP fulfils its mandate to promote human rights, democracy and sustainable development through the established PAP Civil Society Forum. We hope to build on the historic first high-level dialogue between MPAPs and the PAP CSO Forum, to further bridge the divide between MPAPS and the people of the continent.

Lindiwe’s departure from the position of Acting Secretary of the African Commission underlines the need for the appointment of a permanent Secretary to the Commission.  As the person responsible for the day-to-day running of the Commission’s Secretariat, based in Banjul, the Gambia, the Secretary is pivotal to the Commission’s effective functioning. The last permanent appointee in that position, Dr Mary Maboreke, retired early in 2020.  The Centre calls on the Chairperson of the AUC to use this period of change to put in place a permanent Secretary, to steer the African Union’s longest standing human rights watchdog. 

For more information, please contact:

Prof Frans Viljoen
Director: Centre for Human Rights

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3228
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


Ms Bonolo Makgale
Programme Manager: Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4199
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


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