Windhoek-Speaker of the National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi is concerned about the slow pace of regional integration in the SADC region.
He feels regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community Forum (SADC-PF) have a greater role to play to advance this ideal.
The Speaker said this on Tuesday when he officially opened the meeting of the new executive committee of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, which is underway in Windhoek from May 8 – 13.
Katjavivi, although hopeful about the future of the SADC region, bemoaned the lack of fierce efforts to advance regional integration.
“Our region is lacking in terms of regional integration. I was very impressed with the report we received from what ECOWAS (West Africa) is doing. As SADC-PF we should take stock and make sure that we are equally visible. When are we going to tackle particular challenges that hinder the process of regional integration?” he asked rhetorically.
The meeting, apart from orientating the new executive committee of the SADC-PF, is also meant to take stock of achievements and challenges facing the regional inter-parliamentary body.
One major challenge has been the lack of a regional parliament. There already exists other organs such as the secretariat (executive) and a tribunal (judiciary) with the legislative arm the only missing link. Other regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have regional parliaments where matters of regional interest and mutual concern are discussed and resolved.
SADC-PF, which consists of 15 member states and a maximum of five representatives elected by the national parliament of each member state, was established in 1997 at a SADC summit in Malawi. The forum aims to provide a platform to support and improve regional integration through parliamentary involvement and promote best practices in the role of parliaments. It has over 1800 parliamentarians in the SADC region as members.
* George Sanzila is a chief information officer at the National Assembly in the Division, Research, Information, Publications and Editorial Services.