The New Times (Kigali)

3 December 2012

African Lawmakers to Step Up Poverty Fight

The thirty fifth conference of the African Parliamentary Union (APU) ended on Friday with an appeal to national parliaments to play a major role in processes that impact on national development.

This resolution and others are partly informed by the lawmakers' deep concern by the general delay in achieving Millennium Development Goal1on extreme poverty alleviation in the 2012 MDGs report, among 16 other considerations.

African lawmakers discussed issues to do with poverty eradication and good governance, in two separate committees that read out their draft resolutions before the general assembly for adoption on Friday.

MP Blessing Chebundo of Zimbabwe who was Rapporteur for the committee that looked into poverty strategies said: "Parliaments should ensure that not only these strategies match the population needs, but also increase transparency in the management of public resources and improve budget discipline."

They urged national Parliaments to participate in the drawing of poverty reduction strategy papers and other programmes against poverty.

Parliaments were also urged to truly exercise their constitutional powers particularly budget and oversight role to ensure adequate budget allocations and monitoring and evaluation of national development programmes.

The committee called on Parliaments to ensure that growth strategies and poverty reduction will help build peace and good governance; promote democracy and human rights; fight corruption; including promoting a strong, sustainable and fair growth.

It asked Parliaments to commit themselves in the achievement of poverty reduction objectives through: ensuring good political and economic governance; and adopting appropriate laws.

Strengthening democratic governance

Meanwhile, the lawmakers urged states which have not done so yet, to speed up the ratification of the African charter for democracy, elections and governance which are seen as major challenges on the continent.

'There is need for African states to establish truly independent and neutral bodies tasked with organising free and transparent elections, and build strong and democratic institutions that can ensure peace and social stability,' said Senator Jean Damascene Bizimana.

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