The Committee of Clerks/Secretaries General furthermore acts as a high-level administrative organ that facilitates the implementation of regional programmes that are to be implemented across different countries. In this regard, it ensures that programmes implemented by the Forum in collaboration with SADC Member Parliaments meet acceptable standards of project delivery and outputs. This function of the Committee also ensures that a calendar of parliamentary programmes be established which allows different parliaments to volunteer to host successive capacity building programmes in fields which are necessary to promote democratisation and advancement of parliamentary work.
2.0 PREPARATIONS FOR FUTURE FORUM INITIATIVES
In the last years, the Forum has led on a number of capacity building initiatives in collaboration with participating parliaments, in particular in the field of ICT, hansard reporting, SRHR and democratisation, to cite but a few areas. In this respect, it is necessary for the Committee of Clerks/Secretaries to meet to update its calendar of initiatives for the forthcoming year as well as confer guidance on administrative issues of interest to the organisation.
2.1 The reporting phase of the SRHR Project
In particular, the SRHR Project (2019-2023) has come to an end, and is currently at the reporting phase. It is necessary for Clerks/Secretaries General to be apprised of the latest reported data concerning Project implementation, and assess achievements and challenges made by country through the Narrative Annual Report in view of promoting SRHR institutionalisation (i.e continuation of SRHR parliamentary initiatives beyond the Project’s life).
For recall, the SRHR, HIV and AIDS Governance Project (2019-2023) is implemented by the SADC-PF in collaboration with 10 participating national Parliaments in order to promote the universal access to SRHR services across Southern Africa within a framework that is conducive to democratic accountability.
The activity period of the Project ended on the 31st May 2023 and the Project is now on its reporting phase until the 30th September 2023. An application has been made to Sweden to renew the Project for a 3-year period and in this respect, it is necessary for Clerks/Secretaries General to meet to discuss onboarding requirements for the next Project, including recruitment of an SRHR Researcher if necessary, coordination by SADC desk officers, and the time frame for signature of Project agreements. This prior coordination is furthermore imperative given that Clerks/Secretaries General are permanent administrators of the National Assembly and there is a likelihood of turnover of MPs with at least 8 general elections projected to occur in the SADC region over the next 2 years, thus leaving a capacitation void. The engagement of Clerks/Secretaries General is thus crucial to establish a Project Onboarding roadmap with tentative dates for signature of the Project Agreement, appointment of the SRHR Researcher and taking place of the first orientation activity.
2.3 The parliamentary project with GIZ
The meeting will also constitute an appropriate occasion for the Forum to also seek the valuable guidance from the Clerks/Secretaries General on initiatives such as the parliamentary project with GIZ on the capacity building of Parliaments to promote regional integration and citizens’ participation through democratic accountability. This project is at approval stage and is intended for the participation of all SADC national Parliaments.
2.4 Guidance to formulate the Strategic Plan of the Forum
The 5-year Strategic Plan of the Forum is about to come to an end on the 31st December 2023. In this regard, the Forum performed a Mid-term review of the current Strategic Plan and will be tasked to develop a new Strategic Plan for the period 1st January 2024 to 31st December 2028. A request for an Expression of Interest for the appointment of a Consultant is being conducted by the SADC-PF and it is expected that the Consultant will be on board by the time the meeting is held.
The necessity to develop a forward-looking Strategic Plan is coupled with the anticipated elevation of the Forum to the status of a Regional Parliament in the coming years, thus further putting the Forum in the spotlight of regional parliamentary democracy. The Strategic Plan will be a costed one which will link activities with cost implications in view of ensuring financial visibility of the SADC-PF over the five year period, and facilitating monitoring and evaluation. It will also address the risk framework of the Forum within the context of promoting financial planning and good governance.
2.5 Discussion of other administrative issues
The Committee will also be an opportunity to deliberate on other administrative issues at the Forum such as an update on the Forum’s financial plan and the hosting of the ICT Hub (SAHUB) at the Forum following the guidance of the Executive Committee.
3.0 OBJECTIVES AND EXPECTED OUTCOMES OF THE CLERKS MEETING
The objectives and expected outcomes of the Clerks/Secretaries General meeting will be as follows:
- To take cognisance of the main features of the Narrative Annual Report (2022-2023) submitted to Sweden, and of the SRHR Project Proposal for period (2023-2026);
- To take cognisance of latest developments regarding the Forum’s project proposal to GIZ regarding the promotion of democratisation, citizen participation and parliamentary delivery;
- To ensure that Clerks/Secretaries General are engaged to facilitate future commitments of their national Parliaments regarding projects and initiatives within the calendar of activities;
- To consider an update on the finances of the Forum;
- To proffer guidance for the next Strategic Plan of the SADC-PF for period 2024-2028;
- To consider the risk management framework of the SADC-PF;
- To consider the proposal of the Forum hosting the ICT hub (SAHUB) pursuant to the guidance of the Executive Committee; and
- To set out an updated calendar of capacity building activities in various fields.
The Draft Agenda for the meeting will be as contained in Programme below.
4.0 VENUE, DATE AND PARTICIPATION
The Clerks/Secretaries General will take place on the 26th - 27th August 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa, with arrivals on the 25th and departure on the 28th August. The precise location will be communicated closer to the date of the event.
Participants will include Clerks/Secretaries General or their delegated staff and SADC-PF representatives.