Southern Africa: SADC-PF Adopts Transformation Document Towards a Regional Parliament


National Assembly Speaker Ms Thandi Modise has welcomed the adoption of the comprehensive Strategic Lobby Document aimed at transforming the South African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) into a regional Parliament.

During its 47th Plenary Assembly members of the SADC-PF adopted the lobby document which provides a codified refence for the collective strategic engagement of Heads of States, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other relevant stakeholders in pursuit of the transformation agenda. The theme of this three-day virtual session was: "The Role Of Parliaments In Strengthening Accountability During A Pandemic: The Case Of Covid-19"

Speaking at the conclusion of the plenary session, Speaker Modise said: "This has been a long way coming and we feel we are making real progress now. All that is left is for each member Parliament to ensure that their countries are ready to ratify this move."

The Plenary Assembly implored SADC-PF Members to continue pursuing persuasive lobby initiatives on transformation, guided by the Strategic Lobby Document, ahead of the SADC Council scheduled for March 2021.

The SADC-PF intends to continue to be the flag-bearer of democratisation and the proponent of democratic values in collaboration with its Member Parliaments.

Other matters discussed during the session included how new parliamentary rules had to be developed to cater for virtual and/or hybrid plenary sessions and committee meetings, and how technology has been utilised to ensure that all aspects of the work of parliament continues (including virtual question time, public hearings, committee meetings, and so others).

During the session leaders of delegation were given an opportunity to share their experiences of their Parliaments' operation under COVID-19. This presented a valuable opportunity for parliaments to learn from one another to ensure that they continue to fulfil their constitutional duties under new circumstances.

Speaker Modise used the opportunity to share how the SA Parliament has had to learn and adapt to the evolving challenges brought on by the outbreak of Covid-19. "This has not been without challenges, as in some instances we were taken to court on the basis that our oversight was not adequate. In those few instances, the courts have found in our favour," she concluded.

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