George Sanzila WINDHOEK - Conspicuous efforts are being made to transform the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) into a regional parliament. One of those efforts was the recent convergence of SADC national speakers in Angola, who lobbied that country’s president Joao Manuel Lourenço to become one of champions for the transformation of the forum and influence his peers in the region. Speakers were gathered for the 43rd plenary assembly of the SADC-PF. SADC-PF, which consists of 15 member states and a maximum of five representatives elected by the national parliaments of each member state, was established in 1997 at a SADC summit in Malawi with the aim 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. One major challenge for the regional inter-parliamentary body has been the lack of a regional parliament. There already exist 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 by parliamentarians at that level. At the meeting, President Lourenço affirmed his support and added that all the necessary preparatory processes should be put in place and communicated at the next SADC summit slated for Windhoek, Namibia, next month. SADC-PF parliamentarians were in agreement that a regional parliament was 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 and 50/50 regional gender parity target for parliaments. With SADC the only region lacking a parliament, the envisaged body, to be housed in Namibia, would see the completion of five regional parliaments anchored on the Pan-African parliament. Addressing the media on behalf of SADC speakers after the consultative meeting in Luanda, Speaker of the Namibian National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, noted that transformation was also vital for regional integration and development. He added that the meeting had agreed every national parliament should canvass for support for the transformation by working closely with relevant government ministries in their respective countries in preparation for the forthcoming SADC summit. The summit hosted by Namibia will see Namibian President Hage Geingob taking over the chairmanship of SADC. *George Sanzila works as Chief Information Officer in the Division: Research, Information, Publications and Editorial Services at the National Assembly.
2018-07-18 09:13:31 2 months ago