The Secretary General of the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF), Ms Boemo Sekgoma has said that it is no longer a question of if, but when the SADC PF will be transformed into a SADC Regional Parliament in line with its founding objectives.
Speaking at the beginning of the 53 rd Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC PF in Arusha, Tanzania, Sekgoma said the Forum, which brings together 15 national parliaments of SADC, had obtained policy approval from the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government to transform into a SADC Regional Parliament.
“As we meet, this long-awaited transformation is now within arm’s reach, and national Parliaments are encouraged to support the final steps to actualise it through the signature of the Agreement Amending the SADC Treaty, and eventually by consideration of the Protocol. We are thus drawing closer to our coveted regional objective to have a SADC Parliament which will promote further inter-parliamentary integration,” Sekgoma said to applause.
The 53rd Plenary Assembly Session of the Forum got underway on 3 July, 2023 under the theme: " Modernizing Agriculture to Address Food Insecurity and Youth Unemployment in the SADC Region: Role of the Parliaments."
The SG said the plenary, which runs from July 2 to July 8, 2023 aims to strengthen legislative governance in Southern Africa.
“We have all gathered here to contribute towards strengthening legislative governance in Southern Africa. This is a subject which is so dear to my heart, and I believe it is also dear to the hearts of many citizens of SADC,” she told delegates, who included the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Noting that this was the fourth time that the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania was hosting the plenary which is the highest decision-making body of the SADC PF, Sekgoma outlined achievements made under the regional consultative body’s execution of its Strategic Plan (2019-2023).
“Many success stories were registered and significant lessons learned. These will undoubtedly inform the successor strategic plan as we also seek to expand the role of parliamentarians in building the future of our Regional Economic Community,” she said.
She said for the first time in the history of the Forum, a process of domesticating three Model Laws began during the course of one Strategic Plan.
“Initiatives to domesticate the SADC Model Law on Elections, which was adopted in December 2018, began in January 2019, while domestication of the SADC Model Law on Gender-Based Violence which was adopted in 2021 and the Model Law on Public Financial Management (PFM) which was also adopted in 2022 is already under consideration,” she said.
She added: “The Forum has adopted, also, Principles and Guidelines for national Parliaments to address the implementation of human rights and to curb corruption. These documents support the existing Bill of rights of the SADC-PF. Furthermore, tremendous progress has been made by improving the robustness of the Forum’s institutional framework.”
The SG said SADC PF was busy promoting parliamentary democracy at the regional level “through implementing programmes and pursuing initiatives which build the capacity of Member Parliaments to uphold democratic principles, preserve the rule of law, and promote the sovereignty and independence of parliaments”.
She said the SADC PF was providing a platform for the region’s lawmakers “to share lessons and develop peer experiences which enhance democracy in our region as a whole”.
She said: “Our aim is to make the SADC region an epitome of democracy in the world, for others to emulate.”
The Secretary General thanked the Plenary Assembly for leadership and guidance towards parliamentary excellence and said the diverse representation at the 53 rd plenary was a testament to the relevance and effectiveness of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
The 53rd Plenary Assembly Session has drawn the participation of 12 out of the Forum’s 15 member parliaments.
The National Assembly of Angola, is represented by a delegation of five Members led by Honourable Pedro Sebastião, MP. The Parliament of Botswana has a delegation of five Members led by Honourable Pono Moatlhodi, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.
The Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo sent six Members led by Honourable Sanguma T. Mossai, Vice President of Senate, while the Parliament of the Kingdom of Eswatini has a delegation of six
Members, led by Honourable Petros Mavimbela, Speaker of the House of Assembly.
The Parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho, is represented by a delegation of six Members led by Honourable Tlohang Sekhamane, newly-elected Speaker of the National Assembly.
From the Parliament of Malawi, Honourable Aisha Mambo Adams, the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, is leading a delegation of eight Members while the Parliament of Namibia sent seven Members led by Hon. Phillipus Wido Katamelo, MP.
From the National Assembly of Seychelles, Honourable. Roger Mancienne, Speaker of the National Assembly and President of the SADC Parliamentary Forum is heading a delegation of three Members.
Southern Africa’s biggest economy, South Africa, is represented at the plenary by five Members led by Honourable Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakulu, Speaker of the National Assembly.
The Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania, which is hosting the plenary has a delegation of six Members led by Honourable Dr Tulia Ackson, Speaker of Parliament.
The National Assembly of Zambia dispatched a delegation of six Members led by Honourable Nelly Mutti, Speaker of the National Assembly while the Parliament of the Republic of Zimbabwe has a delegation of six Members led by Honourable Advocate Jacob Francis Nzwidamilimo Mudenda, Speaker of the National Assembly.
Sekgoma expressed gratitude to the Government and the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania through Speaker Ackson, for hosting the SADC Parliamentary Forum 53 rd Plenary Assembly Session at short notice.