Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi (middle) and Hon. Sophia Swartz Fischer (left) at the plenary assembly. At the back are Hons. Sebastien Karupu (left) and Agnes Limbo representing the Namibian Parliament
|Story by George Sanzila
Swakopmund - Even though the Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi has admitted that the transformation process of the SADCPF into a regional parliament has been painstakingly slow due to lack of commitment by some countries and other impidiments, he is hopeful that the conclusion of the plenary of the forum currently underway in Swakopmund will yield positive results going forward.
The Forum’s 46th Plenary Assembly that was officially opened by Namibian Vice President, H.E. Nangolo Mbumba yesterday (13/12/2019), is being held in Namibia that also hosts the secretariat of the regional parliamentary grouping.
Speaking on the side-lines of the meeting, Hon. Katjavivi noted that it was imperative that the process of transformation is expedited. “We have been looking forward for this exercise to be completed. I must admit that we have not been able to do that. There are still issues that still need to be resolved. During the course of the assembly, we are going to reflect on that to see what we need to do”, stated Katjavivi.
Katjavivi further noted that the transformation would advance regional integration and other matters of common interest. “We need to have institutions that cater for the interest of the SADC region. Its important that we advance the cause of regional integration and move in the same direction in terms of working together on matters of common interest”, said the Speaker who is leading the Namibian delegation to the plenary.
Both Vice President Mbumba and the President of the Forum and Mozambican Speaker, Hon. Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlovo noted that the transformation was on the agenda of the SADC summit and that a request has been made for the forum to come up with a model that explicitly shows the mandate and functions of the regional parliament.
Hon. Macamo Dlovo further urged lawmakers comprising the forum to continue to lobby their respective heads of states and governments to generate the necessary political will.
SADC is the only region without a regional parliament. There already exist other organs such as the secretariat (executive) and a tribunal (judiciary), with the legislative arm the only missing link. Other regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have regional parliaments where matters of regional interest and mutual concern are discussed and resolved by parliamentarians at that level. The regional parliament is necessary to harmonise legislation such as the eradication of child marriage and protection of those already in marriage, development of standards for elections in SADC region, regional integration and issues related to gender equality and 50/50 regional gender parity target for parliaments.
Also, at the gathering, Madagascar was admitted as the 15th member of the SADCPF. Conspicuous efforts are also been made to add the Comoro Islands to the membership of the parliamentary body.
SADC-PF, which consists of 15 member states and a maximum of five representatives elected by the national parliaments of each member state, was established in 1997 at a SADC summit in Malawi with the aim to provide a platform to support and improve regional integration through parliamentary involvement and promote best practices in the role of parliaments. It has over 1800 parliamentarians in the SADC region. Other lawmakers representing the Namibian Parliament at the plenary include, Hons. Agnes Limbo, Sebastien Karupu and Sophia Swartz Fischer.