The two-day SADC Parliament Forum (PF) EXCO meeting considered and endorsed several progress reports on the execution of its programme of action which includes economic integration, ratification of the SADC PF protocol by various national Parliaments and the state of readiness for the 53rd SADC Parliamentary Forum Plenary Assembly Session that is scheduled to take place in Dar Es Salam - Tanzania from 2 to 8 July 2023.
It also endorsed a number of proposals that include the establishment of a learning institute using a SADC PF under-utilised facility in Namibia, as well as calls for united African parliaments to ensure that the continent features a singular candidate to canvas for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) presidency during the IPU Assembly scheduled to take place in Angola in October this year.
South Africa supported the candidature of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Dr Tulia Ackson, who is the Chairperson of the Africa Geo-Political Group, as the President of the IPU.
The proposal received the support of most SADC member parliaments at the EXCO level with the exception of Malawi. “All the countries agree that, if we are to win some of the debates, we need to have our own to represent us. We believe that the IPU needs a young and vibrant person with new ideas to take the IPU forward and ensure that transformation takes place where necessary. Dr Ackson has the necessary expertise for the role. We will start lobbying now and move around and talk to other groups within our continent to support her,” said Ms Mapisa-Nqakula.
The EXCO noted with concern the tendency of African parliaments that adopt different positions on critical matters necessary for the continent’s development at the global multi-lateral forum such as the IPU, and urged all member parliaments to prioritise continental unity. Areas cited include the emergency items discussed at the IPU which should always put first the development challenges facing the continent.
Emphasis was placed on the need for Africans to prioritise issues relevant to the development challenges plaguing the African continent. It emerged that most of the time, Africa gets to the IPU and ends up endorsing emergency items imposed on the Africa Geo-Political Group by other regional blocks.
As a region, the EXCO has agreed that this is a matter that has to be raised at the level of the Geo-Political Group. Africa must be better organized and coordinated, to ensure that it supports one emergency item at the IPU. This means it will have to compromise where it is necessary and focus on issues that really affect the continent in a profound way.
This will also ensure that the serious challenges facing the continent which include the conflict in Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo will receive the necessary attention. Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said these conflicts affected the lives of women and children disproportionately in those areas, with the Sudan conflict described as having even far-reaching destructive consequences on the Sudanese civilians. “This challenge of conflict is part of the issues we believe should be discussed so that when we get there, we understand as a region what should be our priority to support,” said Ms Mapisa-Nqakula.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA