Communique 31st Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum Maputo, Mozambique
08th-16th, JULY 2012
"STRENGTHENING PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY"
1. The SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) 31st Plenary Assembly was held in Maputo, Mozambique, from the 8th to the 16th of July 2012, under the theme "Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy".
2. The Plenary Assembly was attended by 13 SADC member Parliaments namely; Angola, Botswana, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The 31st Plenary Assembly duly noted an apology from the Parliament of the Republic of Seychelles.
3. Welcoming delegates to the 31st Plenary Assembly, the Secretary General of SADC PF, Dr.
Esau Chiviya, underscored that Parliaments are the building blocks for democracy and
therefore called for the necessary constitutional, legal, normative and institutional arrangements to be put in place in order to strengthen their institutional independence and operational efficiency in line with the theme.
4. In her remarks during the 31st Plenary Assembly, Hon. Beatrice Nyamupinga, Chairperson of the Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC), lauded SADC member States that have integrated the African Women's Decade (2010-2020) under the auspices of the African Union, into their national agendas.
Hon. Nyamupinga further called upon SADC member States to accelerate the ratification of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in order to facilitate its implementation.
5. In her welcoming remarks, the host Speaker, Hon. Veronica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo, Speaker of the National Assembly of Mozambique, observed that the theme "Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy" is vital for strengthening democracy in SADC.
Further, Hon. Dlhovo re-affirmed the National Assembly of Mozambique's commitment to the establishment of a SADC Regional Parliament, adding that such a Parliament would strengthen friendship, peace and stability in the Region and aid regional integration.
6. Hon. Lovemore Moyo, Chairperson of the SADC PF and Speaker of the House of Assembly of Zimbabwe, reiterated the need for Parliaments to remain open and responsive in the performance of their duties in order to promote democracy and good governance.
Hon. Moyo reiterated the need for SADC to establish its Regional Parliament in order to accelerate the implementation of decisions of the Summit of Heads of State and Government for the benefit of SADC citizens. The Chairperson therefore called for continuous dialogue with the SADC Heads of State on the need to amend the SADC Treaty to include the establishment of a SADC Regional Parliament alongside other SADC institutions established in accordance with Article 9(1).
7. Officially opening the 31st Plenary Assembly, the Guest of Honour, His Excellency Armando Emilio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique, lauded SADC's deep rooted unity and praised the SADC PF for offering a regional parliamentary platform for political engagement and dialogue.
H.E. President Guebuza underscored that the 31st Plenary Assembly's theme, "Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy", aptly captures SADC Parliaments' common goal of responding to the needs of the citizens by monitoring and assisting Governments in the implementation of public policies and programmes. In this regard, he called upon the SADC PF to maintain its role in strengthening parliamentary democracy in the SADC Region.
8. Delivering a vote of thanks during the 31st Plenary Assembly official opening ceremony, Rt.
Hon. Henry Chimunthu Banda, Speaker of the National Assembly of Malawi, expressed
appreciation for the role that Mozambique, a founding member of SADC, is playing in facilitating regional integration. He also expressed hope that the issue of a SADC Parliament will be discussed at the SADC Summit to held in Maputo in August 2012.
9. Addressing the Plenary Assembly deliberative session, Mr Murumba Werunga, Emeritus Clerk, Parliament of Kenya, who heads the Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Training, urged Parliamentarians as the elected representatives of the people, to prioritise the needs and aspirations of the people in their work, thereby strengthening parliamentary democracy and good governance in SADC.
Mr. Werunga implored SADC Parliaments to continue instituting legislative reforms in order to strengthen their institutional independence and operational efficiency.
10. SADC member Parliaments, in presenting their Country Reports to the 31st Plenary Assembly, emphasised the need for respecting the principle of separation of powers between the three arms of Government as a way of strengthening democracy within SADC countries. They therefore called for legislative reforms to be sustained in order to strengthen the role of Parliament in building functional and sustainable democracies in the Region.
11. In pursuit of SADC PF's transformation to a Regional Parliament, the Plenary Assembly resolved that from the 33rd Plenary Assembly, all its Sessions will be changed from the current conference style to start operating like a Parliament, thus adopting parliamentary procedures.
12. The 31st Plenary Assembly adopted the Benchmarking and Self-Assessment Toolkit, paving way for implementation of the Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures in Southern Africa. In adopting the Self-Assessment Toolkit, the 31st Plenary Assembly noted that it is a useful reference instrument for National Parliaments to transform and become more democratic institutions.
13. The Plenary congratulated the people of the Kingdom of Lesotho for holding credible elections and for respecting the will of the people as demonstrated by the acceptance of results and the smooth transfer of power, adding that this is a good practice that should be emulated by other countries in the Region and the continent.
14. The Plenary Assembly further noted with satisfaction the continued and enhanced cooperation between the SADC PF and the SADC Secretariat which serves to enhance the implementation of SADC Protocols and other decisions for the benefit of SADC citizens.
15. Plenary Assembly noted with gratitude the progress made in mobilising resource for the implementation of SADC PF Programmes and thus welcomed the support from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), Friederich- Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Open Society Institute for Southern Africa (OSISA), Swedish Agency for International Development (SIDA) and UN Women. The Plenary encouraged other international cooperating partners and the private sector in SADC to support Parliaments as a way of strengthening parliamentary democracy.
16. The 31st Plenary Assembly thanked the National Assembly and people of Mozambique for the warm hospitality extended to delegates during the 31st Plenary.
17. The 32nd Plenary Assembly of the SADC PF will be hosted by the Parliament of the Republic of Malawi in October 2012.
Issued at Polana Serena Hotel, Maputo, Republic of Mozambique
14th July, 2012
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