Swakopmund - The Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Professor Peter Katjavivi, says efforts are ongoing to bring all SADC member states on the same level of understanding on the need to transform the SADC-PF into a regional parliament.
Katjavivi said the process to transform the forum has been painstakingly slow, due to lack of commitment by some countries and other impediments such as financial constraints.
He, however, said he was hopeful the conclusion of the plenary of the forum that took place in Swakopmund from 13 to 17 December last year would reenergise the region’s national parliaments to relentlessly pursue the goal of transforming the deliberative body.
The forum’s 46th plenary assembly that was officially opened by Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba was held in Namibia, which also hosts the secretariat of the regional parliamentary grouping.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Katjavivi noted it was imperative that the process of transformation is expedited.
“We have been looking forward for this exercise to be completed. I must admit we have not been able to do that. There are still issues that still need to be resolved. During the course of the assembly, we are going to reflect on that to see what we need to do,” he said.
Katjavivi further noted the transformation would advance regional integration and other matters of common interest.
“We need to have institutions that cater for the interest of the SADC region. It is important that we advance the cause of regional integration and move in the same direction in terms of working together on matters of common interest,” said the Speaker, who is leading the Namibian delegation at the plenary.
Both Mbumba and the president of the forum and Mozambican speaker Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlovo noted the transformation was on the agenda of the SADC summit and that a request had been made for the Forum to come up with a model that explicitly shows the mandate and functions of the envisaged SADC regional parliament.
Macamo Dlovo further urged lawmakers comprising the forum to continue to lobby their respective heads of states and government to generate the necessary political will.
SADC is the only region without a regional parliament. There already exist other organs such as the secretariat (executive) and a tribunal (judiciary), with the legislative arm as 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 by parliamentarians at that level.
Observers say the regional parliament is necessary to harmonise legislation, such as the eradication of child marriage and protection of those already in marriage, development of standards for elections in SADC region, regional integration and issues related to gender equality, as well as the 50/50 regional gender parity target for parliaments.
SADC-PF was established in 1997 at a SADC summit in Malawi to provide a platform to support and improve regional integration through parliamentary involvement and promote best practices in the role of parliaments.
Other lawmakers representing the Namibian Parliament at the plenary are Agnes Limbo, Sebastian Karupu and Sophia Swartz Fischer.
2020-01-08 08:18:19 | 14 days ago