SADC PF @50: A Reflection
By Professor Peter Katjavivi.
The Parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho was the gracious host of the 50th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, which was hosted virtually from the 10th to the 12th of December 2021.
Held under the theme, “Celebrating a New Era of Democracy Towards Consolidating the Vibrant Voices of SADC Parliamentarians,” the Plenary coincided with the SADC PF’s golden jubilee.
The President of SADC PF, Hon. Christophe Mboso N’Kodia Pwanga, who is also the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), presided over the Plenary Assembly, which drew the participation of 14 of the 15 national parliaments that form the SADC PF.
He gave a progress report on the activities and achievements of the Forum. These included the celebration of the transformation of the SADC PF into a SADC Regional Parliament, which happened in Malawi in 2021 at the SADC Heads of States and Government Summit.
The Rt. Hon. Dr Moeketsi Majoro, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho and Guest of Honour, gave the Keynote Address at the Plenary.
Notably, the 50th Plenary Assembly Session brought together past and present members of the Forum, who reminisced over the foundations of the Forum and the road it has traversed so far. Also in attendance was His Majesty King Letsie III who is Head of State of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The Assembly was scheduled to look at three key topics. These included: The Windhoek initiative and the birth of the SADC Parliamentary Forum: Celebrating the emergence of the voice of Parliaments in SADC Regional Integration; Taking stock of SADC PF’s key milestones; and, Leveraging the role of Parliament for effective implementation of the SADC Agenda.
However, due to time constraints, only the first two topics were exhaustively considered. Regardless, several important issues stood out during the course of the two-day Plenary.
They include monitoring and observing X elections that have now become the norm and part of the culture throughout the African continent and even beyond SADC; making Model Laws, for instance, the one on Eradicating Child Marriages and Protecting Children Already in Marriage, and the SADC Model Law on Gender-Based Violence (GBV); the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Regional Parliament; and the need to document and share with SADC citizens, the history of SADC PF lest it is lost and forgotten.
The objective of having model laws is to encourage the SADC Region to benchmark and enforce measures to combat-related challenges.
Additionally, the Plenary unanimously endorsed an important and one-of-a-kind initiative to set up a Trust Fund that will spearhead fundraising activities to support the work of the SADC PF.
Work to set up this Trust Fund is already underway and we expect it to be up and running in early 2022.
A eulogy was made in form of a motion by the Speaker of the Zambian Parliament. It paid tribute to the late Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Founding President of Zambia, and acknowledged his and that of the people of Zambia’s great contribution to the liberation of southern African in particular and Africa in general.
As we conclude this year, we would be remiss if we failed to acknowledge the fact that this December 2021, marks the 60th Anniversary of the Independence of Tanganyika (today’s Tanzania).
Against this background, we congratulate the people of the United Republic of Tanzania for their Uhuru.
Let us continue to acknowledge and celebrate the role played by the late Dr Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere in tandem with his fellow leaders who were part of the Frontline States alongside Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel of Mozambique, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Eduardo dos Santos of Angola. Dr Sam Nujoma, Founding President of Namibia later joined this illustrious group. The Herald