In 2024, the SADC region will be faced with multiple events and challenges which will further shape and determine our shared destiny as a geographical bloc. Parliamentarians need to work actively to check soaring inflation, protect the economy from external threats and stabilise nationalise finances. We have to continue addressing the resounding issues of democratisation, protection of vulnerable groups, improving economic and social conditions, safeguarding our environment and ensuring climate justice.
It would not be hyperbolic to say that socio-economic recovery to position the region back to the pre-COVID targets is yet to be realised and felt by most citizens, especially those who form part of vulnerable and marginalised communities.
This year, more than 5 SADC countries will be going into general elections, in relation to which there will be a need for constitutionalism to prevail and for all procedural and substantive electoral processes to be duly accomplished in fairness and equitable treatment to all concerned.
We are living at a time when parliamentary activism has become the linchpin of thriving democracies around the world, with accountability and transparency executed by Parliament becoming the ubiquitous norms which are demanded by citizens. More and more, citizens demand that their elected representatives stand up for themselves to solve emerging issues, in addition to exercising oversight over the Government’s agenda. Moreover, MPs are expected to embrace their mandate in peacebuilding and acting as emissaries for peace for they act as role models in the resolution of conflicts, both a national and international level.
Around the world, parliamentary policy which depends on independent thinking of MPs around issues of unanimous concern such as climate action, gender equality or protection of human rights provide an avenue for MPs to unite across the House and introduce private bills or support noble causes which are not covered by the Government agenda. In the past decades, functional democracies around the world have demonstrated that MPs of both sides of the House can be thought leaders which bring the impactful change that is necessary to mark a difference.
The SADC region can equally become a hub for parliamentary activism and for open and frank parliamentary debates to be instilled by and for citizens to ensure that democracy progresses in the right direction. The SADC-PF has set itself the stellar objective of promoting parliamentary interactions through public hearings and public awareness campaigns which profusely involve citizen participation. During 2024, Standing Committees and other relevant organs of the Forum will be holding virtual meetings with citizens, civil society organisations, faith and traditional leaders and other representatives to ensure that the themes addressed by the Forum are tackled with direct input from the citizenry.
In this respect, 2024 promises to be an interesting year for SADC Member Parliaments and partners. I invite you to read the Roadmap of the Secretary General for the Year 2024 which contains the priorities of the Forum for this year, as well as the Executive Blueprint of the Strategic Plan of the Forum for period 2024-2028 which will soon be finalised.
On this note, I am pleased to wish you all a productive start of the year 2024.
I am convinced that by standing together, we shall achieve more.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.
Hon. Roger Mancienne,
President of the SADC-PF