The 55th Plenary Assembly meeting of the SADC PF concluded successfully, marking a pivotal milestone in the Forum’s ongoing commitment to regional integration, legislative efficacy, and Parliamentary Diplomacy. The Assembly received and deliberated upon the Report of the Executive Committee on general SADC PF policy and administrative matters, alongside the Treasurer General’s Report. These reports were informed by the deliberations of the Executive Committee (EXCO) meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 15th and 16th June 2024. The discussions highlighted several critical issues, notably the Transformation of the SADC PF into a fully-fledged Regional Parliament and the financial situation of the Forum.

Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Advocate J.F.N Mudenda, received memorabilia from the President of the SADC PF, Honourable R. Mancienne, while the Secretary General, Her Excellency, B. Sekgoma, looked on. One of the pivotal decisions taken during the Assembly was the approval to continue lobbying missions, led by the Chairperson, Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Honourable Advocate J.F.N Mudenda. These missions aim to persuade the remaining countries, namely Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, and Mauritius, to sign the Agreement to transform SADC PF into a SADC Regional Parliament by amending the SADC Treaty. The Assembly also affirmed the proactive efforts of member Parliaments from Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, who have utilized their countries’ resources to advance the cause of the transformation agenda for the past ten years since 2014. The SADC PF Assembly expressed its gratitude to the Lobby Team and their Governments.

In line with the recommendations of the EXCO, the Plenary Assembly approved the continued institutionalization of collaborations with partners to domesticate the SADC Model Law on Elections. This initiative, supported by the Technical Working Group and MPs on the Democracy, Governance and Human Rights Standing Committee, will include comparative interfaces through a series of regional webinars. The webinars will sustain the momentum for democracy, accountability, and provide continuity beyond traditional Election Observation Missions (EOMs), as exemplified by the recent successful webinar on the South African elections.

Members of Parliament from Zimbabwe stood up at the conclusion of proceedings. The Plenary Assembly acknowledged the promising media results demonstrated in previous engagements and approved the nomination of media officers from national Parliaments. In line with the new Strategic Plan (2024-2028), these representatives will work with the Forum within a structured media framework and a set budget to improve media campaigns on the activities of the SADC PF Standing Committees and its other organs.

Additionally, the Plenary Assembly noted the progress made under the SIDA-supported Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Project (2023-2026). Member Parliaments were encouraged to fully utilize the Project’s resources to implement parliamentary activities that promote universal access to SRHR programmes at the national level.

Pursuant to Rule 44 (5) of the SADC PF Rules of Procedure, which emphasizes stronger collaboration with stakeholders, the Assembly also received solidarity statements from distinguished partners, including Ms. Grace Kibunja, Head of Advocacy at the African Population Health and Research Center (APHRC), who affirmed the commitment to partnership with SADC PF to enhance parliamentary effectiveness in the SADC region, and Mr. Machinda Marongwe, the Programme Director for Southern Africa at Oxfam, who addressed the Assembly on enhancing parliamentary action on gender justice, climate change, governance, and humanitarian collaboration in the SADC region.

In his closing remarks, the President of the SADC PF, Honourable Roger Mancienne, highlighted the significant progress made towards the signing of the Agreement to transform the SADC PF into the SADC Regional Parliament, with Zambia being the 11th signatory, just one short of the required 12 threshold.

Overall, the resolutions adopted during the 55th Plenary Assembly reflect the collective dedication of SADC PF Member Parliaments to foster regional integration, enhance parliamentary effectiveness, and ensure sustainable development across the SADC region. The 55th Plenary Assembly will be remembered as a significant step towards actualizing the Forum’s vision of transforming into a formidable Regional Parliament guided by the adopted SADC PF Strategic Plan (2024-2028).

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