Namibia backs regional parliament

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Speaker of the National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi has revealed Namibia fully supports efforts to transform the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) into a SADC Regional Parliament.

Katjavivi revealed Namibia’s stance on the planned SADC regional parliament when he recently confered with the Secretary General of SADC-PF, Dr Esau Chiviya, who led SADC-PF directors and managers on a courtesy call at the Speaker’s chambers.

Describing himself as “a converted” man with respect to the genesis and aspirations of SADC-PF, Katjavivi said Namibia was with those seeking the transformation of the forum in keeping with its founding objectives.
“You are speaking to the converted. I share the vision (of a transformed SADC-PF) and am particularly interested in the path that you have charted and the groups that you have formed to convince our leaders,” Katjavivi said.
He told his guests efforts to transform SADC-PF were intensifying and “music” to his ears.

Earlier, Chiviya had briefed Katjavivi on the initial objectives, success, challenges and aspirations of the SADC-PF. Additionally the SG outlined steps that the SADC-PF had taken as it prepared for the transformation into a SADC Regional Parliament.

The steps included requesting a meeting of SADC Speakers with the Chairperson of SADC to present the case, establishing lobbying teams, making contact with the SADC executive secretary and preparing a lobbying document for SADC heads of state and government, the Council of Ministers and the SADC Secretariat.

Why a SADC Regional Parliament?

Chiviya said a SADC Regional Parliament was needed because as things stand the SADC region has only two instead of three arms of government, namely, the executive based in Gaborone and the SADC Tribunal based in Windhoek but which is currently suspended.

“The third arm – the legislature – is missing. There is, therefore, need for a SADC Regional Parliament to complete the three arms of SADC as a community,” Chiviya expounded.
He said in the establishment of SADC PF in 1997, SADC PF was viewed as a forerunner to the SADC Regional Parliament.

He said 11 SADC member parliaments rallied behind the transformation of SADC-PF into a Regional Parliament by debating and passing motions to that effect.

What a SADC parliament would do

He explained a SADC regional parliament would facilitate the ratification, domestication and implementation of SADC Protocols.

“There are over 33 protocols that our heads of state and government have passed. However, less than a third of them has been implemented,” he noted.
Accordingly, Chiviya said that a SADC regional parliament would enhance the capacity of SADC to implement its policies and programmes.

“It would also enact model regional laws on issues that cut across national boundaries such as those related to the environment, the movement of people, shared water courses, trade, gender equality and transport.”
At what, whose cost?

Over the years, some stakeholders have sought clarity on the financial implications of the envisaged SADC Regional Parliament. Chiviya explained that it would come at no additional cost to member states given that the current SADC-PF Secretariat in Windhoek would serve as the Secretariat of the SADC Regional Parliament. The SADC Regional Parliament would hold its sessions on a rotational basis in member parliaments in accordance with current practice. Also, its office-bearers would not be full-time but would be presiding officers of national parliaments while its financing would be based on the current model of equal contribution from member parliaments. The headquarters of a SADC Regional Parliament would continue to be in Namibia.

Going forward

A noticeably excited Katjavivi commended Chiviya for providing a “comprehensive briefing” and revealed that Namibia had taken a decision to hand over the current National Assembly building to SADC-PF once it becomes a SADC Regional Parliament.

“You have demonstrated a very good sense of sensitivity to financial implications of this transformation,” he said.
He however advised SADC-PF to continue working closely with stakeholders including the media to explain the benefits that would accrue from transforming SADC- PF into a SADC Regional Parliament.

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