National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has called on all Parliaments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to work together to promote the principles of human rights, democracy, economic development, and peace and stability in the region.
Mapisa-Nqakula made the call after her swearing-in as the Member of the SADC Parliamentary Forum 50th Plenary Assembly on Saturday.
Mapisa-Nqakula, who attended the SADC PF 50th Plenary Assembly for the first time since her election as Speaker, led a South African Parliamentary delegation to a three-day plenary session, hosted by the Parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho from 10 to 12 December 2021.
The session was held under the theme “Celebrating a new era of democracy towards consolidating the vibrant voices of SADC Parliamentarians”, which highlights the progress made through Parliamentary initiatives under the auspices of the forum towards consolidating democracy in the region.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the forum has committed its energies to improving and strengthening Parliaments’ capacity in the region.
“It is a responsibility I intend to take seriously and determined to plan to the best of my abilities,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
The Speaker called on SADC-PF to actively champion the drafting of the protocols that will lead to the establishment of the Regional Parliament, as per the goals and aspirations of the 2018 SADC Region Heads of State consultation meeting.
“The region’s history is that of unity, cooperation and movement of citizens, and it would be important that the regional Parliament, as a representative of ordinary people, exercise its oversight role over the executive,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula also called for a strong SADC-PF with a strong impetus to better the participation at the Parliamentary African Parliament and other inter-continental of international parliamentary programmes.
She urged the forum to continue to ensure meaningful discussions aimed at equipping Parliaments to serve the communities in the region better and promote the principles of human rights, economic development, and peace and stability.
SADC Model Law on GBV
The assembly also adopted a ground-breaking SADC Model Law on gender-based violence (GBV).
The model law aims to eradicate GBV so that individuals in the region can live decently and enjoy fundamental human rights without fear of violence.
On Sunday, the plenary considered motions and statements by Members of Parliament that align with the theme.
There was also an opportunity for the South African delegation to provide some insights on the unique role SADC Parliaments can play in promoting a SADC identity within the context of the forum’s approved transformation into a Regional Parliament and the region’s broader integration of Vision 2050.
SADC PF is the first inter-parliamentary entity with an organ dedicated to monitoring the domestication of laws and international treaties in the form of the Regional Parliamentary Model Laws Oversight Committee, including those governing elections and eliminating child marriage.
Much progress has been made towards the development of monitoring tools, including domestication scorecards, election observation and technical assessment reports.