Eveline de Klerk
Swakopmund-The continued failure to establish a Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional parliament is a betrayal of the noble vision of the founding fathers and mothers of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
This was said by the vice-president of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Monica Mutsvangwa, during the official opening of the workshop on women legislators as champions in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, which concluded yesterday in Swakopmund.
The workshop was attended by women in parliament and other leadership positions in SADC to discuss challenges faced by women and other vulnerable members of society in terms of reproductive health and rights.
Mutsvangwa said that SADC could have tackled the issues of child marriages, HIV/Aids, domestic violence and access to health facilities more effectively if a SADC integrated parliament was in existence.
“Whilst we continue to appreciate the regional parliamentary deliberative space we are given, we urge SADC governments to transform us into the SADC regional parliament as originally envisaged. This will undoubtedly allow us to effectively deal with pertinent regional issues such as sexual and reproductive health rights,” she said.
She added that regional parliamentary consensus and action programmes are critical to ensure a people-centred regional integration. “Hence our call for a SADC regional parliament,” Mutsvangwa appealed.
Mutsvangwa thanked Namibia for the invaluable role that it has played in the establishment and continued existence of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
“It was through the visionary leadership of late Dr Mose Tjitendero, our revered founding chairperson and the first Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, that the SADC Parliamentary Forum was self-established in 1996. The establishment of the forum was formalized by the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in 1997 and we continue to flourish under the hospitality of the Namibian government since then,” said Mutsvangwa