Since June 2014, the Forum has endorsed an “Operating like a Parliament” Strategy which heralds the operational paradigm of the Forum as it embarks on a progressively more ambitious phase of inter-Parliamentary integration. The transition from a deliberative body to a fully-fledged SADC Regional Parliament is a logical step in the Forum’s initiatives towards regional integration made over the years, through targeted interventions and resolutions at the level of the Plenary Assembly.
Despite progress made in different spheres, the fact remains that in 2018, the SADC Region continues to be affected by daunting challenges. Improvement of national responses to HIV and AIDS; greater access to affordable medicines and health services; the need to ensure free and liberal trade; improvement of gender equality; enhancement of the democratic systems of the SADC Region through fair elections or access to domestic minerals through mining; and food security, among others; all constitute matters of mutual interest that are confronted with challenges on multiple fronts. Moreover, the SADC Region is affected by the same factors weakening the international economic order and which impact on trade deficit, economic growth, public debt and unemployment rates in Member States.
The Model Laws developed under the auspices of the Forum further attest to the long-standing agility of the Forum in working towards the harmonisation and integration of laws in the region. Altogether, the role of the Forum in helping to enhance sustainable development in the region is undeniable. However, now more than ever, despite the achievements of the SADC PF to date, in its current form, it is clear that there is need for further action beyond its current mandate. Resolutions agreed to at the regional level are not binding on Member States. A SADC Regional Parliament would thus serve to promote good governance and augment the implementation of the decisions of the Executive through the engagement of lawmakers at Regional level on issues of common regional concern. In this regard there is need for a higher inter-Parliamentary body which can bring Member States closer together and engage them to enact laws and administer policies that are border-friendly allowing for political, social and economic integration whilst bearing in mind other common concerns which plague the region. While similar regional inter-Parliamentary systems already exist in Europe, the rest of Africa and other regions of the world, the SADC Region will not replicate but rather develop its Regional Parliament in its own context, given its unique specificities without usurping the sovereignty of Member States. Furthermore, the achievements of the Forum already lend credence to the fact that inter-Parliamentary cooperation can indeed act as a game-changer in ridding the region of its ominous challenges.
In accordance with inter-state economic modelling, the idea of a completely integrated economic bloc would be marked by the free movement of goods, services, capital and people. Fiscal and non-fiscal barriers to trade would be gradually eliminated thereby allowing free flow of goods across borders. The establishment of a SADC Free Trade Area would constitute a point of departure for future integration, followed by a Customs Union, then a Common Market, a Common Monetary Area and ultimately a Common Currency. Complete monetary integration would imply that there will be no restriction on capital flows across nations which would use a single currency denomination. Monetary policy, price stability, balance of payments and regional debt would be overseen by a central Bank for the region. The integrated regional zone would furthermore be visa-free, with liberalised airline connectivity and initiatives to jointly market the region as a single destination of choice.
1.3 The Forum’s Mandate
The SADC-PF is a Regional Inter-Parliamentary body comprising of National Parliaments of SADC Members States (except Madagascar). Currently, the SADC PF comprises 14 Member Parliaments, representing over 3,500 Parliamentarians. The Member Parliaments are; Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The SADC PF was established in 1996 and approved by the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government on 8th September 1997, in Blantyre, Malawi. The Summit “approved the establishment of the SADC Parliamentary Forum as an institution of SADC, in accordance with Article 9(2) of the SADC Treaty”. The Summit further noted that the mandate of the Forum was “to constitute a Parliamentary Consultative Assembly, the ultimate goal being the establishment of a Regional Parliamentary Framework for dialogue on issues of regional interest and concern”.
There are five standing Committees aligned to SADC sectors that oversee program implementation. These Committees are the engine room for Parliamentary Business. Below are the five SADC-PF standing Committees;
Gender Equality, Women advancement and Youth development;
Trade Industry, Finance Development integration;
Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources and Infrastructure;
Democratisation Governance and Human Rights; and
Human and Social Development and Special Programs.
The SADC PF’s mandate as enshrined in its Constitution is as follows:
To promote respect for the rule of law, gender equality and equity, individual rights and freedoms, including the promotion and development of cooperation in the economic field in the SADC Region based on the principle of equity and mutual benefit;
To promote peace, democracy, security and stability on the basis of collective responsibility and supporting the development of permanent conflict resolution mechanisms in the SADC Sub-Region and strengthening regional solidarity and building a sense of common destiny among the peoples of SADC; and
To promote dialogue and cooperation among Member States on socio-economic development issues in order to enhance economic welfare.
1.3.1 Objectives of the Forum
To strengthen the implementation capacity of SADC by involving Parliamentarians in the affairs of SADC;
To advocate the harmonisation, ratification, domestication and implementation of SADC Protocols, treaties and other decisions at the national level
To promote the principles of human rights, democracy, peace and security, regional integration, human and social development, economic governance and gender equality through collective responsibility within the SADC Region;
To familiarise Parliamentarians of Member Parliaments with the objectives, priorities and decisions of SADC;
To provide a parliamentary perspective on issues affecting SADC countries;
To provide a Forum for discussion on matters of common interest to SADC; and
To promote cooperation with other parliamentary organisations and other stakeholders.
1.3.2 Implementing the Mandate
The Forum already operates in accordance with a governance framework which is sanctioned by its Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the SADC-PF. Under this governance structure, the Plenary Assembly is the main decision-making body of the Forum and the Executive Committee is the management body which feeds information to the Plenary Assembly. The other organs of the Forum, namely the Standing Committees and the Regional Women Parliamentary Caucus, also feed information to the Plenary Assembly on specific thematic themes. The Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, stands guided by the decisions of all other organs of the Forum and is overseen by the Executive Committee in its operations. All Forum staff fall under the administrative supervision of the Secretary-General.
Collaborations between inter-parliamentary systems and international organizations further create the snowball effect which lays the foundations for incorporation of the Model Law into domestic legislation of Member States in the SADC region and beyond. It is the momentum created through collaborations which propagates the sense of ownership of the Model Law as a guiding legislative instrument which should inform African norms. The international acclaim and general acceptance given to the Model Law will also encourage Member States to incorporate the provisions in the best of delays.
The National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale) is Mauritius's unicamerallegislature, which was called the Legislative Assembly until 1992, when the country became a republic. The Constitution of Mauritius provides for the parliament of Mauritius to consist of the President and the National Assembly. The parliament of Mauritius is modelled after the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, where members of parliament are voted in at regular general elections, on the basis of a first past the post system.
It consists of 70 members, 62 directly elected for five-year terms in multi-member constituencies and 8 additional members, known as "best losers", appointed by the Electoral Supervisory Commission to ensure that ethnic and religious minorities are equitably represented. The Government is primarily responsible to the National Assembly and the prime minister stays in office only as long as he or she retains the support of a majority of its members.
The National assembly is supreme and determines the functioning of various constitutional institutions of the country.
The President and Vice-President are both elected by the assembly for a five-year term.
The National Assembly is essential to determine which party/group forms the government and therefore the executive of the country. As per the constitution, the prime minister is answerable to, and must maintain the support of the assembly. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the President appoints the person who has the support of the House, or who is most likely to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the assembly.
The political party or alliance which has the second largest majority forms the Official Opposition and its leader is normally nominated by the President of the Republic as the Leader of the Opposition.
The Assembly is made of up of 70 members, of whom 62 are directly elected in 21 constituencies. The island of Mauritius is divided into 20 constituencies returning three members each and that of Rodrigues is a single constituency returning two members. After a general election, the Electoral Supervisory Commission may nominate up to a maximum of 8 additional members in accordance with section 5 of the First Schedule of the Constitution with a view to correct any imbalance in community representation in Parliament. This system of nominating members is commonly called the best loser system.
The political party or party alliance which wins the majority of seats in the Assembly forms the government and its leader usually becomes the Prime Minister. It is the Prime Minister who selects the members of the composition of the Cabinet from elected members of the Assembly, except for the Attorney General, who may not be an elected member of the Assembly.
List of political parties represented in the Assembly
A new assembly was elected on December 10, 2014 and a new coalition government was appointed with Sir Anerood Jugnauth as prime minister. The following political parties are represented in the assembly (based on the number of MPs):
After a new assembly is elected, the President, by proclamation, may open the new session fixing the date and time of the sitting. The government message (replacing the speech of the throne) is read by the President. The Assembly normally sits on Tuesdays as from 11:30 AM when it is in session. The President acting on the advice of the prime minister may at any time adjourn, prorogue or dissolve the assembly.
Officials/Functions of the Assembly
The following positions/body have important functions in the assembly. They are as follows:
The Speaker - The main function of the Speaker is to ensure that the Standing Orders and Rules of the National Assembly are complied with. The Speaker interprets and enforces the Standing Orders and for the purpose of interpretation, recourse is often had to Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, responds to Members' points of order and give rulings when necessary. The Speaker symbolizes the authority of Parliament.
The Deputy Speaker - The Deputy Speaker assists and acts as the Speaker when the latter is out of office.
The Leader of the House (Prime Minister) - The President acting on the advice of the prime minister may at any time adjourn, prorogue or dissolve the assembly.
The Leader of the Opposition - The office holder is usually to level criticism against the policy and administration of Government and to outline the alternative policies.
The Attorney General - The office holder is the national legal adviser to the government and the assembly.
The Government Chief Whip - Along with the Opposition whip, sets the agenda for the parliamentary work.
The Opposition Whip - Along with the Chief Whip, sets the agenda for the parliamentary work.
The Government Deputy Chief Whip - Replaces the Chief Whip when the latter is out of office.
The National Assembly of Malawi is the supreme legislative body of the nation. It is situated on Capital Hill, Lilongwe along Presidential Way. The National Assembly alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in Malawi. At its head is the Speaker of the House who is elected by his or her peers. Since June 2014 the Speaker is Richard Msowoya.
The 1994 Constitution provided for a Senate but Parliament repealed it. Malawi therefore has a unicameral legislature in practice. The National Assembly has 193 Members of Parliament (MPs) who are directly elected in single-member constituencies using the simple majority (or first-past-the-post) system and serve five-year terms.
The current parliament was inaugurated on 9 June 2014 after the 2014 general election. No party managed to secure a majority in the house. Two by-elections were expected to be held for the Thyolo East and Blantyre North constituencies. Peter Mutharika won the presidential election and therefore could not represent the former constituency, while a Malawi Congress Party candidate died prior to the election in the latter.
The National Assembly of Lesotho is composed of one-hundred and twenty elected members. Eighty members are directly elected from constituencies and the other forty are elected through proportional representation. There is a Speaker who is elected by members of the National Assembly.
No member of the National Assembly can participate in its deliberations without first taking the Oath of Allegiance. Members making their maiden speeches, which are expected to be short and not controversial, are not interrupted and are generally given an enthusiastic applause by drumming the chambers’ tables vigorously.
The Speaker’s chair, overlooks the entire Assembly. The seating plan is U-shaped. The government side sits on the right of the Speaker with the Prime Minister and Cabinet occupying the front-benches while the other members of the ruling party occupy the back-benches of the same side. This seating plan is mirrored by the main opposition party with its leader and shadow cabinet on the left of the Speaker.
Parliament is housed in a colonial building which is about one hundred years old constructed early in the last century.
When a constituency-elected member of the National Assembly vacates a seat, arrangements are made to have a by-election. When a member elected on the basis of proportional representation vacates a seat, the Speaker of the National Assembly has power to appoint the next person on the Party List to effect a replacement.
The Senate is the upper house of the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the transition period in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2003 - 2006), the Senate, aside from its Legislative role, also had the task of drafting the country's new constitution. This task came to fruition with the adoption of the draft in Parliament in May 2005, and its approval by the Congolese people, in a successful democratic referendum on 18 and 19 December 2005.
Members of the Senate are indirectly elected based on proportional representation by the Provincial Assemblies. Each of the 25 provinces elects four senators, with the exception of the city-province of Kinshasa, which elects 8. Elected senators serve 5-year terms. Former presidents sit as senators for life by right.
Senators were elected under the new constitution on 19 January 2007 by the provincial parliaments of their respective provinces. The results of the latest election was:
The National Assembly is elected every 5 years by universal suffrage. There are 500 seats, 61 members are elected in single member constituencies while the remaining 439 members are elected in multi member constituencies by open list.
Numbers of deputies for each ville, commune (Kinshasa) and territory
Parentheses contain the number of deputies elected from each subdivision
The 42nd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF ended in the Namibian capital on December 3 2017 with delegates focusing on consolidating issues that started at the 41st plenary assembly session in Seychelles which ushered in a new leadership within the regional deliberative body.
Among the main issues deliberated and agreed upon was the issue of transformation of the SADC PF into a SADC Regional Parliament.
When plenary began, SADC PF President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos who is also the Speaker of the National Assembly of Angola, called for concerted efforts to transform the Forum into a regional legislative body in keeping with its founding objectives.
Mr. Sheuneni Kurasha, the Parliamentary Business Focal Person at SADC PF, said many MPs and National Parliaments were now supportive of the envisaged transformation.
"There is consensus among SADC Member Parliaments that there is need for a Regional Parliament. The SADC Treaty places obligation on Member States to ratify SADC decisions for them to take effect," Kurasha said in an interview.
In almost all SADC Member States, ratification SADC and other decisions is the responsibility of Parliament. The absence of a Regional Parliament in Southern Africa means that there is no legislative body that facilitates speedy ratification of SADC decisions by National Parliaments.
"The SADC PF tries to assume that role but within the context and confines of a deliberative body which is not legislative. Accordingly, the just ended plenary resolved to accelerate engagement with SADC Heads of State and Government and other stakeholders on the need for a SADC Regional Parliament," he added.
The SADC Region remains the only one of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of Africa without a regional legislative assembly.
The plenary welcomed progress made toward the development of a SADC Model Law on Elections under the SADC PF's Standing Committee of Democratization, Governance and Human Rights. Expectations are that the Model Law would facilitate the domestication of electoral instruments.
In the area of gender, the plenary agreed to focus on gender-responsive budgeting, which is the main-streaming of gender issues across the budget development process to ensure that issues that affect men and women, but in particular women for historical reasons, are addressed through the budget via allocation of resources.
In the same vein, the plenary highlighted the importance of the participation of women in elections, politics and decision-making to ensure that gender equality as it relates to increased representation, participation, and empowerment of women is realised given, that women constitute the majority in many countries.
VOCAL: ZIMBABWEAN LAWMAKER MONICA MUTSVANGWA (STANDING) MAKES A POINT DURING THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY SESSION OF SADC PF.Delegates were briefed on major developments in different countries. For instance, the Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, updated the plenary on the situation in Zimbabwe following recent events which led to the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe and the subsequent inauguration of the new President, Emerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. The plenary wished Zimbabwe well and expressed optimism that the fortunes of ordinary Zimbabweans would improve.
From Lesotho's Speaker of the National Assembly Sephiri Enoch Motanyane, the plenary received an update regarding what has been an ongoing political crisis in that country which has prompted SADC to intervene through a commission previously and more recently, a peace-keeping mission.
In recent years, each time Lesotho went into a general election, it has been forced to form a coalition government because none of the parties has been able to garner adequate numbers to be able to form a government on its own. Those coalition governments have been fractious, leading to their collapse and snap elections being called. Over the past five years, three elections have been called for in Lesotho.
Motanyane explained that there had been notable progress in Lesotho in terms of implementation of reforms recommended by SADC PF, the African Union, the Commonwealth Observer Mission and others after the last elections which were held in May 2017, in which SADC PF participated as an observer.
The plenary welcomed the good tidings of progress in Lesotho and encouraged the new government and stakeholders to continue implementing reforms to ensure that the country returns to normalcy. Recommendations made include the need to regulate political floor-crossing, which has triggered instability when it has led to imbalance in terms of numbers that political parties are required to remain in government.
Angolan Speaker dos Santos briefed the plenary on the last election which took place in Angola on August 23 2017 which SADC PF unfortunately did not observe. SADC regulations stipulate that in order for an election observation mission to be deployed, there is need for a quorum of seven Member States. Only four SADC Member States expressed willingness to send observers to Angola. Since this did not make a quorum, the Forum could not send observes.
Delegates stressed the need for SADC PF to observe all elections in SADC Member States. They argued that this was in line with the oversight mandate of Parliaments.
The plenary noted that Angolan elections were conducted peacefully and ushered in a new President, João Lourenço, a former member of the SADC PF.
Election observation does not seem to be getting the attention of cooperating partners, yet in the eyes of SADC MPs; it remains an important issue as it constitutes an important aspect of democracy.
Noting that the of election observers has a restraining effect, Kurasha said the presence of observers during an election tends to boost the confidence of citizens and minimize election-related conflicts.
"This is because observers have a mandate to assess the extent to which member states adhere to the various codes of conduct that obtain in member parliaments. Election observation missions provide an opportunity for independent witnesses to elections. To that extent, they guarantee integrity of electoral processes."
The plenary resolved that Parliaments that are ready and able must participate in observer missions. However, delegates highlighted the need for all SADC Member Parliaments to participate saying when more Parliaments participate, it becomes cheaper and lends more legitimacy to elections.
Typically, SADC PF observer missions include male and female Parliamentarians from governing and opposition parties, which guarantees plurality.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Job Ndugai, attended the plenary with MPs from his country to a rousing welcome. It was the first time in nearly four years that a Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania attended the plenary.
Tanzania is not only a founder member of the SADC PF, but the country has been very active in the Forum. In brief remarks, Ndugai pledged his National Assembly's unwavering support to the work of SADC PF and the regional integration agenda.
An MP from the United Republic Tanzania, Ally Ally Sally moved one of the motions tabled and adopted during the plenary. The motion called for concerted efforts to ensure women's more active participation and representation as well as empowerment in politics and decision making positions.
Debating of motions tabled during the plenary was so passionate and lengthy that some motions were deferred to the next plenary assembly session which will be held in June 2018 in Angola.
Kurasha said the fact that some motions could not be dealt with was proof of the seriousness with which MPs generally deal with issues brought to plenary.
Among the highlights of the just ended plenary assembly session was the announcement that SADC PF had finally procured an official residence for its Secretary General, Dr Esau Chiviya, in keeping with standard practice and procedures of organizations like SADC PF.
The plenary drew approximately 110 delegates who included Speakers of National Assemblies, Deputy Speakers, MPs and staff of national parliaments from 13 of the 14 SADC PF Member Parliaments.
TETE-A-TETE: Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia , Professor Peter Katjavivi chats with a fellow delegate during the 42nd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF in Windhoek last week.The Democratic Republic of Congo was absent with apology. Kurasha expressed gratitude to the Government and the people of the Republic of Namibia, the National Assembly of Namibia as represented by the Speaker Prof Peter Katjavivi and his staff for supporting the plenary.
Windhoek - Civil Society Organisations, United Nations agencies and other partners are working with the SADC Parliamentary Forum to hold the first ever Women's Parliament in Mahe, Seychelles next week from Wednesday to Thursday.
The organisers say the Women's Parliament will bring together SADC women members of parliament, and their counterparts from other parts of the world, to critically discuss and sustain the engagement of parliaments to implement Resolution 60/2 of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW).
The resolution focuses on women, the girl-child and HIV and Aids, which is still a major grim reaper claiming countless lives.
Through Resolution 60/2, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) calls on governments, international partners and civil society to give full attention to the high levels of new HIV infections among young women and adolescent girls, and their root causes.
As the Report of the United Nations' Global Commission on HIV and the Law noted almost exactly five years ago, such root causes include a country's body of laws concerning HIV and Aids.
The evidence indicates that an enabling legal environment, including one that ensures both the legal and practical equality of women and girls, is much more likely to result in lower rates of HIV infection than a punitive one that enshrines historical inequalities.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum is the deliberative body that brings together 14 National Parliaments in the SADC Region to discuss common issues affecting the SADC region as well as to support the regional integration agenda.
The first ever Women's Parliament got underway in Mahe, Seychelles on 5 July 2017 with strong calls for prevention, age-appropriate sexuality education, more involvement of men and boys, thinking outside the box and focusing on what works in responding to the global HIV epidemic.
The normally serene picturesque Eden Island was a hive of activity as SADC Women Parliamentarians, former Heads of State and Government, representatives of Civil Society Organisations, ordinary women and girls and other delegates gathered to discuss Resolution 60/2 of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) to discuss how to stop HIV infections, especially among women and girls.
Notable among the delegates were the President of Seychelles, Mr Danny Faure and members of the Champions for an AIDS-Free generation group: Former South African President Kgalema Mothlante; former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba; and former Ugandan Deputy President Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe.
Zimbabwean lawmaker Monica Mutsvangwa, who is the Vice President of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, officially opened the Women's Parliament and called on Women MPs and their development partners to collaborate in stopping new HIV infections.
"This Women's Parliament is concerned with ending unacceptably high rates of HIV infection among women and girls. As elected representatives of the people, we have the power and the mandate to make a difference in the lives of all people, particularly women and girls. We can achieve this through our various roles and mandates that include representation, advocacy, law making, budgeting, oversight and shaping opinions on a plethora of issues," she said in a rousing speech which called, also, for more use of information communication technology.
Mutsvangwa said greater access to ICT had changed the way communities communicate and socialize their young. She called on MPs to adapt to the ICT revolution. She noted that with many people now "talking with their thumbs", socialisation of young people had been "outsourced to gadgets and social media".
She said in such a scenario, adults and the elderly faced being left behind.
"Let us think about how we can effectively engage with women and girls through the media of their choice. Information is power. Are we reaching our women and girls with information that can empower and protect them?"
Malawian Member of Parliament Dr Jessie Kabwila, the Chair of the Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus, also spoke during the official opening. She emphasised the critical role women in politics play to ensure that Parliaments are inclusive and take women's needs into consideration.
She called for strategies to increase the number of women Members of Parliament whom she said had the capacity to make a positive difference in the lives of women and girls but lacked the numbers to do more through their legislative mandates.
"The first step in the political empowerment of women is to ensure a critical mass of them is elected to Parliament through an electoral system, proportional representation system where all political parties use 'Zebra' listing," Kabwila said.
She said once women were elected or appointed to Parliament, strategies and structures were necessary to ensure that they were supported.
"Once women are elected to Parliament, what tools are available to promote women's empowerment from within the institution? Issues of women's sexual reproductive health and rights will remain a pipe dream if we don't assist women to get into party politics and ensure that they are empowered to deliver on their mandate."
Kabwila said the objective of the Women's Parliament was to set out a crisp agenda as part of the implementation of Resolution 60/2 and facilitate the overarching objective to tackle the high rate of new infections among young women and adolescent girls in the SADC region.
Seychelles National Assembly Speaker Patrick Pillay officially welcomed the delegates to Seychelles and encouraged them to use the opportunity to forge positive relationships and fruitful engagement.
"We in Seychelles are extremely happy to welcome the SADC PF Family. We hope you will take the opportunity to deliberate on the issues at hand and have exchanges with other Members of Parliament from fellow SADC countries."
Ms. Buumba Malambo, a young Ward Councillor from Zambia, challenged Parliamentarians present to represent "the hidden voices" - women and girls who are living in poverty, forced into marriage with limited access to basic education and health and who lack decision making powers due to patriarchy.
"This is why we are here; to make policies that are going to help these traumatised girls. These are the hidden voices that we must fight for. This is why against all odds I stood as Councillor, entered the harsh patriarchal world of Zambian politics, making me one of two female Councillors in a Council of 16 Councillors."
Malambo also called for good education policies to ensure that young girls have a better chance of moving out of poverty to be able to provide for themselves and their families.
"Education removes the dark cloth of ignorance from a girl child and gives her the opportunity and the light and hope that come from education," Malambo said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Mr Charles Chauvel United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Team Leader for Inclusive Political Processes with the Bureau of Policy & Program Support, said public representatives have a responsibility to align their activities with a commitment to end HIV and AIDS.
"Parliamentarians through their constitutional responsibilities of law-making, oversight of government activity and representation of the people have a fundamental role to play in ensuring that their procedures in Parliament and outside of it are fit for purpose to achieve the eradication of discriminatory standards and norms [so that we eradicate] HIV and AIDS," Chauvel said.
* Otae Mkandawire is the Communications Specialist at UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office while Moses Magadza is Communications and Advocacy Specialist at SADC PF
MAHE, SEYCHELLES - Delegates to the first ever Women's Parliament which ended here on July 6 2017 have called for sustained engagement over issues dealt with during the Parliament.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum, the Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus (RWPC) and other cooperation partners, notably ARASA, organized the Women's Parliament, which sought to rally female Members of Parliament around Resolution 60/2 on the status of Women, Children and the Girl Child. Resolution 60/2 seeks to end HIV infection among women and girls.
The major outcome of the Women's Parliament was the Mahe Declaration which summarises deliberations that took place during the two-day Women's Parliament. The Mahe Declaration captures resolutions on specific action that needs to be taken to address the various issues that were discussed.
The President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr. Danny Faure and the Speaker of the National Assembly of Seychelles, Mr. Patrick Pillay have supported long-running efforts to transform the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Regional Parliament while also calling for more investments in the youths.
The two leaders spoke at the official opening of the 41st Plenary Assembly Session of the Forum which got underway here on Monday. More than half of the cabinet and the leader of the opposition of Seychelles Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan, joined the President for the official opening ceremony.
"The recognition we can give to the SADC Parliamentary Forum for its contribution in advancing the region's democracy, governance peace and development agenda is to earnestly consider its quest for transformation into a Regional Parliament," the President said.
He said Africa is in the middle of a process of massive transformation and was home to many of the world's 10 fastest growing economies. Additionally, the continent has rich natural resources, a young population and scope for growth, with many companies and countries alike turning to Africa's promise.
"It is a continent of hope with immense potential," he said.
The President said in spite of its vast potential, Africa continued to face many developmental challenges.
"In the context of globalization, regional integration is imperative for Africa. But effective implementation of regional frameworks will only take root in healthy and democratic environments where economic management is transparent and accountable. Building this kind of political and economic security requires that we think and act regionally and continentally in the spirit of solidarity and shared commitment."
He said to prosper in a globalized economy, Member States needed to act as organized regions to improve the quality of lives of their people "including the reinforcement of the values of democracy and good governance."
He urged SADC Member States to ensure the meaningful participation of the people and institutions of the region to achieve an effective and transparent regional integration process.
"Parliament is the embodiment of representative democracy and its untapped potential to deepen SADC's regional integration should be appreciated and recognised."
The President added: "The setting up of a SADC Regional Parliament will build more stable foundations for peace and security, better promote the implementation of policies, democratic standards and best practices resulting in greater political stability, more sustainable economic development and increased regional integration."
His view is that a SADC Regional Parliament would provide a platform for leaders, Governments and people of southern Africa to share best practices and developments in governance and socio-economic advancements.
Earlier, Speaker Pillay said Seychelles was "lengthily discussing" the transformation of SADC PF into a SADC Regional Parliament in line with its founding objectives.
"I see the (President) taking copious notes. Perhaps Seychelles may consider - small as we may be - if we get funding we could, like Namibia has done (hosting the SADC PF Secretariat), consider hosting you (a SADC Regional Parliament). I know it is a bold statement, but we are an ambitious small nation," he said to applause.
The theme of the 41st Plenary Assembly Session is: " Harnessing the demographic dividend in SADC through investments in youth.' '
President Faure said the theme was in line with the commemoration of the African Union's 54th anniversary and the Organization's vision 2063. The adoption of this vision, he said, was a "colossal milestone" towards inclusive development and the empowerment of the people.
"The theme provides us with the opportunity to continue valorizing our youth with more vigor and dynamism. The involvement of youth in the development of our continent and indeed in southern Africa will mean more inclusive participation and development. Our youth are an extraordinary asset to our region."
Speaking at the same occasion, SADC PF President Fernando Da Piedade Dos Santos, MP, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly of Angola, called for more investment in young people.
"The high population growth rates in most of our countries have resulted in the number of youth and children to be higher than that of the adults. As a result, the number of those who need to be supported and cared for is higher than that of those who are independent and have to take care of them. Consequently, the youth are feeling left out and as politicians who value each and every vote, we should consider this theme earnestly," he said.
Malawian lawmaker Dr Jessie Kabwila who is the Chairperson of the Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus advocated for the inclusion and prioritisation of young women as well as for clear policies backed by implementation to eradicate teenage and unplanned pregnancy. She said SADC PF should think about how it can provide oversight as the region invests in the demographic dividend.
"The problems of corruption, patronage agreed, the practice of governing for personal aggrandisement, and power run by a few to the detriment of many cannot be formula for harnessing the demographic dividend. We need to remember that corruption retards and destroys."
SADC Secretary General Dr Esau Chiviya said the Forum exists to promote the principles of human rights, democracy, peace and security, regional integration, human and social development, economic governance and gender equality through collective responsibility within the SADC Region.
Chiviya added that SADC PF advocates, also, for the harmonization, ratification, domestication and implementation of SADC Protocols, treaties and other decisions at national level, while strengthening the implementation capacity of SADC by involving Parliamentarians in the affairs of SADC.
Delegates to this Plenary include Speakers or their representatives and Members of Parliament from 12 of the 14 SADC PF Member States. Lesotho and Tanzania are not represented due to pressing national commitments. The Plenary is expected to adopt the Made Declaration, which captures recommendations from the first ever Women's Parliament that took place in Seychelles last week.
Le Forum parlementaire de la Communauté de développement de l'Afrique australe (SADC PF) a été créé en 1997 conformément à l'article 9 (2) du Traité de la SADC en tant qu'institution autonome de la SADC. Il s'agit d'un organe interparlementaire régional composé de treize (14) parlements représentant plus de 3500 parlementaires dans la région de la SADC.