LUANDA, ANGOLA – Members of Parliament (MPs) from different
SADC Member States who attended the 43rd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, had a busy time here with important reports and motions tabled for consideration.
The MPs received and debated a number of key motions as they moved to tackle common challenges affecting the SADC Region. The Plenary began with an official opening ceremony and a symposium last Monday. The Plenary, which is the ultimate decision-making body of SADC PF, considered and adopted a report of the Forum’s Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee is the management board of the Forum which provides stewardship over management and financial matters of the institution, which brings together 14 National Parliaments and approximately 2 500 MPs throughout the SADC Region.
Acting SADC PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma said that the Executive Committee presented three reports: on general management of the institution, on financial matters and one related to amendment to the rules and constitution of the Forum with a view to strengthen certain areas – including establishment of a forum for chairpersons of Standing Committees and the Chairperson of the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC).
The Plenary received and considered, also, reports from all Standing Committees of the SADC PF that met prior to the 43rd Plenary Assembly Session.
Sekgoma said in terms of motions, topical ones were moved. One of the motions focused on strengthening developmental States in Southern Africa as an alternative model to the neo-liberal developmental framework. Siphosezwe Masango of South Africa moved that motion. Another motion was on engagement with the Parliaments of Comoros and Madagascar to encourage them to join SADC PF. This is after their governments have already joined SADC and have been formally admitted.
A motion calling for concerted efforts to combat sexual harassment in the workplace throughout the region was moved by Regina Esparon of Seychelles.
Botswana’s Polson Majaga moved a motion calling on MPs to take concrete steps to address the negative impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security in the SADC Region, given the huge number of people who rely on agriculture.
South Africa’s Stevens Mokgalapa, MP, moved a motion calling on SADC Parliaments to do more to sustain efforts to promote electoral integrity in the Region.
That motion followed a decision by the 39th Plenary Assembly of SADC PF, which met in the Kingdom of Eswatini in 2016 and resolved to develop a SADC Model Law on Elections against the backdrop of the adoption of the Revised SADC Guidelines and Principles Governing Democratic Elections.
The motion came in the context of a very busy electoral calendar in the SADC Region between 2018 and 2019, during which 10 SADC Member States are expected to hold elections. In 2018, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and the Kingdom of Eswatini will hold elections. In 2019, Malawi, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Mauritius will also go to the polls. South Africa’s veteran politician Rosalia Morutoa moved a motion on gender dimensions to land ownership and agricultural industrialisation in Southern Africa.
In all, 12 of the 14 SADC PF Members of Parliament were represented at this Plenary and observers said the fact that many of the national delegations were being headed by Speakers shows the seriousness with which SADC Member States take the SADC PF and the work that it does.
In recent years, the Forum has developed Model Laws to address common regional challenges that include child marriages, notably with financial support from Sweden and Norway who supported a four-year project to build the capacity of MPs to advocate for universal access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, HIV and AIDS services. Plans are underway to develop a SADC Model Law on key populations as the region strives to ensure that no one is left behind or falls through the crack towards universal access to SRHR, HIV and AIDS services.
This was the third time that Angola hosted the SADC PF Plenary. Prof Peter KatjavivI, Speaker of the National Assembly headed the Namibian delegation to the Plenary Session.