The vice-president of the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), Joseph Njobvulema, says despite the parliamentary forum having been established with the ultimate goal of transforming it into a SADC regional parliament, this dream is yet to be realised, as the SADC parliament has yet to be established.
Njobvulema was speaking at the official opening of the 38 plenary session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) that started in Swakopmund on Saturday and ended on Monday. He said the failure to establish the SADC regional parliament will remain a missing link in the envisaged integration of SADC.
The 38th plenary session was attended by 70 delegates from 12 member states and took place under the theme ‘From Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Towards a Greater Parliamentary Role in the Development Agenda’.
The 38th plenary took a critical look at the scope and opportunities for parliaments to facilitate and oversee the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) at national, regional and global levels.
The SDG’s are part of the United Nations’ initiative to transform the world’s agenda for sustainable development. It includes the objective to end poverty, achieve food security, quality education and sustainable management of water.
According to vice-president Njobvulema, the inclusion of parliament in the regional integration agenda would ensure a people-centred integration process, as parliament forms a link between the people and government.
Parliaments are indispensable institutions of representative democracies around the world. Their roles remain the same: to represent the people and ensure that public policy is informed by citizens on whose lives they impact. People have basic needs, which include preserving and sustaining life, reducing poverty, and ensuring peace, security and stability, the Malawian legislator said.
“Responding to these needs and aspirations would obviously involve all domains and levels of governance, particularly the legislature. That is the reason we are gathering here to address the needs and aspirations of the African people,” he said.
“This is where representative, law-making and financial and oversight functions are exercised. Therefore, it is imperative for members of parliament to rise to the challenge and make decisions on policies that will enhance the living standards of the people in the SADC region,” he stated.