The Southern Africa Development Community’s Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) is pursuing its objective of transforming into a fully-fledged regional parliament. Established in 1997 as an autonomous institution within the SADC region, to dateSADC-PF has maintained only a consultative and advisory function within SADC, serving as a platform for parliamentary dialogue to promote regional cooperation and integration. The Forum aims at becoming a “fully equipped and functionalSADC Regional Parliament”, as outlined in its most recent Strategic Plan (2011-2015). AWEPA is supporting the SADCParliamentary Forum’s internal process to move forward in its transformation agenda, through the Austrian-funded institutional cooperation programme “Transition to Transformation: Strengthening Regional Parliamentary Capacity in the Southern African Development Community”.
The regional parliamentary seminar “Africa’s Regional Parliaments: State of Development, Cooperation, and Potential,” jointly held by SADC-PF and AWEPA in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 17-18 May 2012 served as a platform for dialogue and experience exchange on key issues of consideration towards strengthening SADC-PF’s strategic approach. The Seminar built on the discussions of the previous roundtable held by SADC-PF on the inter-face between the Regional Parliamentary Assemblies and the Pan-African Parliament (Lusaka, 2005) as well as its latest Plenary Session held in Angola in 2011.
Participants of the Johannesburg seminar, which included members and representatives of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, EALA, the ECOWAS Parliament, the European Parliament, the SADC Tribunal and SADC Council of NGOs discussed and compared the institutional development paths of their respective parliamentary bodies, including information exchange on best practices in terms of membership, mandates and how these parliaments have been able to maintain financial autonomy, but also on how to deal with challenges and setbacks. In doing so, participants had the opportunity to reflect on the institutional strengths and coordination of Africa’s regional parliamentary bodies in the emerging development landscape. They also discussed their respective roles in overseeing the commitments made to parliaments in the context of the High-Level Fora on Aid Effectiveness of Paris, Accra and Busan.Among the recommendations outlined in the final statement, parliamentarians and other participants recognised the need to continue to engage all relevant stakeholders on the issue of the establishment of a SADC Parliament; to strengthen the formal ties with the other SADC structures; to consolidate the existing documents on the SADC-PF and better contextualise its role; to strengthen cooperation with European parliamentarians to provide an impetus to advocacy efforts for a SADC Regional Parliament with legislative powers; to strengthen the awareness and appreciation for a regional parliament within the SADC region; to continue building its technical capacity; to increase the support of the media, business community and civil society; to remind governments and donors of the commitments made to parliaments in Paris, Accra and Busan and engage Parliaments in oversight of aid and the design of development strategies at the country and regional level. For the final statement of the regional parliamentary seminar, click here.
The conclusions of the discussions and recommendations made will be taken forward at the upcoming Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Forum to be held in Maputo, Mozambique and will feed into the design of the Forum’s medium-term action plan.