MEDIA RELEASE: SADC-PF TRADE, INDUSTRY, FINANCE AND INVESTMENT COMMITTEE CALLS FOR HARMONISATION OF CROSS BORDER TRADE SYSTEMS12 Apr 2021 Written by SADC Parliamentary Forum
WINDHOEK-NAMIBIA, Sunday 11 April 2021 - The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum's (SADC-PF) Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) has called on SADC countries to harmonise systems to reduce, amongst others, cross border trade costs and time spent at borders.
The TIFI Committee, chaired by Hon. Anele Ndebele, from Zimbabwe, met virtually today under the theme: " Enhancing Regional Economic Integration Through Infrastructure Development: A Case Of One Stop Border Post" to discuss ways in which regional economic integration, through infrastructure development - with special focus on one-stop border posts, can be enhanced.
MEDIA RELEASE: SADC-PF COMMITTEE CONCERNED OVER SLOW IMPLEMENTATION OF CHILD MARRIAGE, HIV/AIDS AND ELECTIONS MODEL LAWS11 Apr 2021 Written by SADC Parliamentary Forum
WINDHOEK-NAMIBIA, Sunday 11 April 2021 - The Regional Parliamentary Model Laws Oversight Committee (RPMLOC) during its meeting on Friday, raised concern over the slow and in some instances non-implementation of the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) Model Laws on Child Marriage, HIV/AIDS and Elections.
About six SADC-PF Standing Committees are holding virtual statutory meetings from the 9th until the 16th of April 2021 in preparation for the 49th Plenary Assembly Session to be hosted by the Parliament of Botswana in June, where each Committee will table its report.
MEDIA ADVISORY: SADC-PF COMMITTEES TO DISCUSS ACCESS TO COVID VACCINE, INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT, CONSTITUTIONALISM AND RULE OF LAW, DOMESTIC TOURISM, UNPAID WORK, AND ENDING CHILD MARRIAGES IN THE REGION09 Apr 2021 Written by SADC Parliamentary Forum
WINDHOEK-NAMIBIA, Thursday 08 April 2021 – Standing Committees of the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) are scheduled to hold virtual statutory meetings from the 9th until the 16th of April 2021. The Standing Committee meetings are being held ahead of the 49th Plenary Assembly Session to be hosted by the Parliament of Botswana in June, where each Committee will table its report.
Matters scheduled for discussion during this weeklong programme includes orientation of new Members, deliberation on thematic issues of regional concern, consultation and validation of the framework for developing regional reference documents on the role of Parliaments in curbing corruption, strengthening accountability, and the protection and promotion of human rights in Southern Africa.
WINDHOEK-NAMIBIA (7/10/2020) – The SADC Parliamentary Forum will hold its 47th Plenary Assembly Session virtually from the 9th to the 11th of October 2020 under the theme: “The Role of Parliaments in Strengthening Accountability during a pandemic: The Case of COVID-19.”
This would be the first time that a SADC PF Plenary takes place virtually. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has now claimed the lives of more than one million people all over the world, has prompted many organisations to suspend face-to-face meetings as they strive to continue working under safe conditions.
By Moses Magadza
WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA - The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Malawi were last week elected chair and vice chair, respectively, of the recently-constituted Regional Parliamentary Model Laws Oversight Committee (RPMLOC) of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
This happened as the regional inter-parliamentary body acted towards ensuring that the region's citizens benefit meaningfully from development of regional soft laws, which are arguably immensely persuasive. Model laws are typically developed in line with international human rights law and international best practice.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum considers that the COVID-19 Outbreak across the SADC region represents a significant threat to public health. Whilst all SADC countries are involved in addressing the pandemic, the SADC-PF recommends that national Parliaments continue to play a leading role in consolidating legal and policy frameworks that can assist to mitigate the outbreak in both the short and long term. In this respect, the SADC-PF encourages SADC national Parliaments and Governments to share experiences with one another, and conduct peer learning on policy responses, as they embark to address the COVID-19 situation prevailing in their country.
The SADC-PF recommends that the responses by each national Parliament should be evidence-based, proportionate to the urgency of the situation, and in conformity with human rights applicable. At all times, a careful balancing exercise should be conducted of the urgency of the COVID-19 situation at the domestic level and the need to protect fundamental human rights of individuals who may be quarantined, confined or under curfew, depending on the domestic circumstances. The SADC-PF is confident that SADC Parliamentarians will be able to embrace their leadership roles in this time of crisis management and ensure that the SADC region, and by extension the world, recover quickly from the pandemic.
The Forum is making arrangements to share COVID-19 related legislation adopted by Member Parliaments and Member States on its website (http://sadcpf.org) in view of promoting information sharing.
In line with public health principles contained in Model Laws developed by the Forum, the following pointers are recommended for the consideration of national Parliaments as they turn to address the COVID-19 outbreak:
- The objective to attain Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and fulfil Sustainable Development Goal 3 relating to health and well being for all, should remain overarching guiding principles to inform policy and legislative responses across SADC;
- Whilst priority should be given to mobilise resources to address the COVID-19 outbreak, access to other equally essential health care services should not be mitigated, eg Sexual and Reproductive Health services, essential surgical interventions, treatments for chronic illnesses, screenings for cervical cancer, provision of ARVs for treatment of HIV/AIDS etc. Redeployment of medical staff to fight the COVID-19pandemic should also ensure that there are no lapses in delivery of essential health care services;
- A national monitoring surveillance team should be set up which includes parliamentarians to monitor the daily COVID-19 situation;
- The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the treatment of other illnesses should be assessed scientifically in view of preventing a collapse of public health systems;
- In consultation with central banks, banking charges and levies should be removed to facilitate withdrawal of cash at the nearest ATMs, and promote cashless banking systems which avoid handling of cash by the public;
- Parliaments may consider adopting targeted legislation for the creation of special funds to assist most vulnerable communities and key populations, and to establish confinement/curfew conditions which are human rights-friendly and proportionate to the urgency of the situation;
- Favourable trade agreements should be negotiated with partner countries to ensure that there is continuity in the availability of staple food supplies and commodities;
- Intellectual property frameworks should be reviewed such that essential medicines, drugs and vaccines to combat COVID-19 are available to the public readily at affordable prices or with subsidies from the State;
- A special COVID-19 tax regime may be instilled for a determined period to encourage enterprises and individuals to address the economic crisis, for instance by removing VAT on certain products, giving rebates, reducing income tax for certain economic sectors in difficulty etc;
- Policy frameworks should be re-engineered through the budget to reinforce the public health system and ensure that it can be sustained in the long term to address the pandemic;
- The long-term financial, industrial, social and environmental impact of the pandemic should be assessed for each country and cooperation established between SADC countries in view of supporting one another and opening new food and medical supply lines where necessary.
The SADC-PF encourages its Member Parliaments to continue promoting the values and guiding principles of the Forum in such trying times, including respect for human rights, the rule of law and constitutionalism.
SADC Parliamentary Forum 25th March 2020
SWAKOPMUND - The 46th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum ended on Sunday in Swakopmund, Namibia with a call for SADC Member States to work towards universal health care.
Namibian Vice President Nangolo Mbumba officially opened the three-day Plenary. He challenged the SADC Region's Members of Parliament to use their mandate as elected representatives of their people, to ensure good health for all.
He explained that UHC is concerned about ensuring that all people have access to healthcare and that there is no financial risk or hardship.
"It is our firm belief and conviction that we can only eliminate Malaria in SADC within the context of UHC. We can only end TB by 2035 within the context of UHC. We can only end AIDS by 2030 within the context of UHC and reduce maternal and infant mortality within the context of UHC," he said.
He commended the SADC PF for promoting parliamentary engagement on issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and HIV which can culminate in UHC and facilitate sustainable human and social development in the SADC Region.
He said the theme of UHC was linked to the attainment of targets of Goal Number Three (3) of Sustainable Development Goal on health which he said was high on the global agenda and agendas of many SADC countries.
"It is certainly these and many other achievements which underlie the proposal for the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament," the Vice President said.
He urged the SADC Parliamentary Forum to continue "with lobby initiatives in view of achieving transformation to promote parliamentary excellence for the benefit of the SADC Region as a whole".
Mbumba noted that the SADC Region was losing potential revenue as a result of exporting unprocessed raw materials and called on MPs to support industrial development initiatives.
He said SADC PF was firmly on track and operating in line with its founding principles.
"SADC Parliamentary Forum has remained true to its constitutive mandate, namely that of serving as a regional consultative forum for parliamentarians to deliberate on matters of regional interest. This is an important contribution to the promotion of representative and participatory democracy."
He said election observation missions organised under the umbrella of the Forum are important in supporting electoral integrity in the region.
"The Forum's commitment to gender equality and women advancement is also worth noting," he added.
Speaking at the same occasion, Hon. Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo, President of SADC PF and Speaker of the National Assembly of Mozambique, said the Forum was indeed advancing its mandate and had over the years developed normative standards in the form of model laws.
"This is an important legislative and policy contribution to SADC's integration. We have adopted Model laws on issues of regional importance such HIV and AIDS, Child Marriage and Elections," she said.
She expressed optimism that the domestication of norms and standards contained in these instruments would strengthen democracy and improve the well-being of citizens of SADC.
"Regional and international protocols and other instruments end up gathering dust and their aspirations are hardly realised. The SADC Parliamentary Forum, therefore, has established a Regional Model Law Oversight Committee to monitor the domestication of Model Laws and related regional instruments developed by the Forum," she said.
She said the UHC agenda was timely because it advanced the SADC PF's Model Law on HIV in Southern Africa of 2008 as well as the Model Law on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights of 2013.
"It is comforting to note that the SADC Parliamentary Forum's Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Program is advocating for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for all without discrimination. UHC should prioritize the health and rights of women, girls and other vulnerable people," she said.
Bilankulu called for free health care, saying lack of financial resources thwarts access to health for all but especially for women and girls.
"Financial and other resources which more often determines women and girls' access to healthcare should be addressed. The health and rights of women and girls can only be achieved through the promotion of free public healthcare," she said.
She said UHC should address socially constructed gender roles and gender determinants of health which compromise the provision and quality of public healthcare.
"Gender-based discrimination, harmful practices and the lack of autonomy which women and transgender people often suffer over their own bodies present a serious risk for the attainment of UHC. We, therefore, need gender lens and gender-disaggregated data to ensure that healthcare needs of women and girls are specially targeted."
On women in politics, she called on Member States to take practical steps to facilitate the active participation of women.
"We have moved one step forward and we are regrettably moving two steps backward. We have witnessed a decrease instead of an increase in women representation even in some of the Member States where we were expecting improvement," she said.
She attributed the poor representation of women in some National Parliaments to bad electoral systems.
"It is a fact that the type of electoral system is a contributing factor to increasing or decreasing the representation of women and this challenge has unfortunately not been addressed. The 'first past the post' electoral system compared to proportional representation and the purposeful inclusion of women quotas inhibits women representation in political and decision making positions," she said.
SADC PF Secretary General, Ms Boemo Sekgoma said the 46th Plenary drew the participation of thirteen Parliaments.
Observers included Mrs. Grace Kibunja, Advocacy Unit Manager of the African Population and Health Research Centre; Sifisosami Dube, Head of Governance and SRHR at Gender Links; and Members of the Diplomatic Corps of Missions accredited, to the Republic of Namibia.
MAPUTO- The Speaker of the National Assembly of Mozambique, Hon. Veronica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo and Senator Isaac Mmemo Magagula from the National Assembly of Eswatini were elected unopposed as President and Vice President of the SADC PF respectively earlier this month.
The two lawmakers were elected at the end of the 44th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF which the National Assembly of Mozambique hosted. They will serve the Forum for two years having taken over from the Speaker of the National Assembly of Angola, Hon Fernando da Piedade Dias Dos Santos and Senator Monica Mutsvangwa of Zimbabwe who served as President and Vice President of the Forum from 2016 to 2018.
The Vice President of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa left the leadership of the Forum last week after an eventful two years at helm of the inter-parliamentary body that brings together 14 SADC national parliaments.
In a case of history repeating itself and in an emotional farewell speech at the end of the 44th Plenary Assembly Session of SADC PF that took place here, Mutsvangwa bade farewell to the regional body that she served in various capacities for many years.
"I cannot help but feel an oppressive sense of déjà vu … The memories of July 2012 remain etched on my mind as I came here for the 31st Plenary Assembly to bid goodbye and surrender my post as Treasurer of the SADC Parliamentary Forum ... How time flies and yet how history always seems to recur!," she said.