Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are coming under increasing pressure to introduce legislation to protect the rights of minority sexual groups.
This follows a call by the Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) for SADC heads of legislature to promulgate laws in favour of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) citizens within the sub-regional bloc.
ARASA made the call during the Speakers Colloquium, which it co-funded with the SADC-Parliamentary Forum in Mauritius recently, hosted by that country’s National Assembly Speaker Santi Bai Hanoomanjee.
This also comes at a time when Namibian minority sexual groups are increasingly vocal in demanding the enforcement of their rights. This is more so due to the continued existence of old apartheid laws that discriminate against sexual minorities.
Speaker of the Namibian National Assembly Peter Katjavivi refused to comment on the matter, saying he did not attend the session at which ARASA made the call on behalf of LGBTI people.
“We are all for the protection of the rights of all citizens of Namibia and the region of southern Africa. But when it comes to issues affecting particular sections of society, this is governed by national laws,” explained Katjavivi.
“I do not want to venture into commenting on things that might not be applicable to some of the sister countries.”
Also at the Colloquium, the former Speaker of Zambia, Amusaa Mwanamwamba, made a presentation on retirement packages for retiring Speakers.
This was part of sharing experiences among Speakers in the SADC region.
Katjavivi joined the Speakers of Botswana and Seychelles in presenting a discussion on shared experiences of being an effective presiding officer.
“Furthermore, Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda of Zimbabwe presented [a paper] on the Global Organisation for Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) and the Association of Parliamentarians for Development Evaluation (APNODE),” he said.
“The GOPAC presentation highlighted the recently publicised issue of the Panama Papers and reiterated GOPAC’s call for SADC parliaments, among others, to introduce national chapters and implement the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.”
According to Katjavivi, the Mauritius GOPAC predominantly discussed the subject of ‘who should police the policemen meant to curb corruption’.
“Here it was revealed that certain countries in the region have recently seen some of their MPs, including a couple of cabinet ministers, resign and others face investigations due to corruption related allegations. This discussion became eminent in the light of the ‘Panama Papers’ that brought out names of key personalities around the world.”
Katjavivi said the discussions on APNODE were meant to ensure that Africa comes up with African solutions to existing challenges.