Home / SADC Parliament

SADC Parliamentary Forum

 

Description

SADC does not have a parliamentary body like the European Parliament. However, SADCPF aspires to develop into a regional parliamentary structure. Established in 1996, it was approved by the Summit in 1997 as an autonomous institution of SADC, not officially belonging to SADC. The SADCPF is an international organisation in its own right but linked to SADC. According to its constitution it is a Parliamentary Consultative Assembly, striving to involve people and parties in SADC in the regional integration process. Among other things, it aims to strengthen SADC’s implementation capacity by involving parliamentarians, their parties and NGOs in SADC activities, promoting the principles of human rights and democracy and educating people on SADC. SADCPF is constituted by representatives of national parliaments, four parliamentarians per country. The Plenary Assembly is the main policy-making body and makes recommendations to SADC how to improve its operation, giving policy advice and scrutinizing the SADC budget. It has the right to send observers to the SADC Summits. Assembly decisions are implemented by an Executive Committee, administratively supported by a Secretariat based in Windhoek, Namibia.

SADCPF is considered one of the most important structures in the region that brings national parliaments together across party lines. It is the only forum that brings together political parties across national boundaries. However, it remains to be seen if parties can transcend their still national focus and make serious inputs to the regional integration process. Parties could make a meaningful contribution to integration and SADCPF is an important platform for that.

However, the success of SADCPF depends on to what extent it can be acknowledged by SADC. At the moment, the relationship between the two is far from smooth. SADC is very reluctant to transform the Forum into a proper regional parliament with powers to hold the SADC Summit accountable. It seems as if the SADC members are not interested in having their decisions scrutinized and power circumscribed by a supranational parliament. In fact, notwithstanding the non-evolvement of the Forum into a parliament, the Forum has not even managed to establish a formal relationship with the Executive. Instead the current informal links are reproduced and strengthened. This goes against the fact that as a parliamentary institution, even though not a formal parliament, the SADCPF should be distinct from an executive institution like the Secretariat. The official SADC rationale for not establishing a SADC Parliament is twofold: it would put too many financial and resource constraints on the members and the ceding of sovereignty by national parliaments. SADCPF acknowledge these arguments and believe that the financial problems could be solved by the secondment of staff from national parliaments and donor funding. Also, regarding the fear of giving up national sovereignty, SADCPF claim that the new parliament could perform its legislative functions in full consultation with SADC authorities without infringing on national legislation power.

In addition, SADCPF put fuel on the fire when notoriously commenting on various national elections, which is not appreciated by some of its members. Through its election observation programme it has monitored, and often criticised, more than 10 elections since 1999 and its Norms and Standards for Elections from 2001 is widely considered a very important and comprehensive policy instrument for promoting good governance in the region. Another source of conflict between SADC and the forum is divergent opinions on the transformation of the forum into a regional parliament, which could imply less political power for member states.

The great difficulties of creating a regional parliament is a strong indication that Southern Africa is very far from supranational political integration. It remains to be seen what the prospects are for a regional parliament.

SADCPF structure

Plenary Assembly

The Plenary Assembly is the policy-making body of the SADC Parliamentary Forum which is constituted of Speakers and four representatives elected by each national parliament. The Plenary Assembly meets twice a year in the member states on a rotation basis and representatives serve for a period of five years. The Plenary Assembly advices SADC Summit on matters of regional policy issues and promotes the objectives and programmes of SADC.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee if responsible for the management of the affairs of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, giving direction to the Secretariat and esuring that decisions of the Plenary Assembly are implemented. The Executive Committee is constituted of six Speakers of national member parliaments and seven MPs elected by the Plenary Assembly every two years and the Secretary General serves as the Chief Executive of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and coordinated the programmes of the Forum.

Standing Committees

Standing Committees of the SADC Parliamentary Forum were established as the think tanks or "clearing houses" of the core business of the Forum. There are five committees address the 15 objectives of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, chief among which is strenghtening the implementation capacity of SADC by involving parliamentarians in the activities of SADC.

Standing Committee on Regional Cooperation and Integration

This Standing Committee evolves strategies and common regional positions on how Parliaments can advance and accelerate the cause of regional integration for the benefit of the people represented by MPs with focus on:

  • agenda setting, articulating and strenghtening the parliamentary dimension of regional cooperation and integration through knowledge and information sharing on regional declarations and protocols of SADC, the continent (NEPAD, Panafrican Parliament) and at the global level (United Nations, etc.);
  • Empowerment and sensitization activities on parliament's representation, supervision and legislative functions to advance regional cooperation and integration;
  • Research and review of opportunities and obstacles to regional cooperation and integration;
  • Lobbying for the ratification and domestication of protocols in national laws and monitoring the implementation of protocols;
  • Building capacities of parliaments and parliamentarians to interrogate, debate and address issues of regional integration.

Standing Committee on Democratisation, Governance and Gender Equality

This body contributes to the deepening and evolution of sustainable democracy and regional norms that advance peace, stability, gender equity, and human rights and good governance for development:

  • It promotes and strenghtens parliamentary-based gender equality lobbying and advocacy, research and monitoring the implementarion of the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development, along with domestication of related continental and international conventions on gender equality;
  • It enhances and influences parliamentary debates and processes for the promotion of gender equality;
  • It engenders all strctures of governance, peace-building and regional integration;
  • It lobbies for the review and the development of inclusive and participative electoral systems, practices and processes to advance peace, mitigate conflict, and deepen democracy and good governance;
  • It strenghtens constitutional institutions of democracy such as electoral management bodies, gender, media and anti-corruption missions;
  • It engages with civil society, business and intellectual communities in promoting popular participation and deepening democratic practice;
  • It consolidates and deepens democracy and works to avert reversals in democratic consolidation;
  • It lobbies and advocates for the facilitation of governance and gender issues through the use of ICTs;
  • It lobbies and advocates for the improvement of the political and the legal environment within which elections are held;
  • It undertake election-related missions, peace and conflict vulnerability assessments.

Standing Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation and Capacity Development

This Standing Committee strenghtens capacities of parliaments and institutions through sharing experiences networking, joint training, orientations and programming that optimize the role of Parliaments in SADC:

  • It promotes the empowerment pf parliaments as institutions of democracy, parliamentarians and parliamentary staff through knowledge, information sharing, lobbying and advocacy and sensitisation;
  • Agenda setting on best practices for good parliamentary corporate governance, inter-party collaboration and intra-party democratic principles;
  • Cooperation and collaboration and other inter-parliamentary bodies in matters of mutual interest (PAP, ECOWAS, EALA, CPA, IPU, etc.);
  • Capacity-building in all areas of parliamentary practice and procedures;
  • Research, information management and documentation of parliamentary practices;
  • Effective and efficient utilisation of ICTs to promote legislative practices;
  • Promoting inclusive corporate governance in the Forum organs and practices.

Standing Committee on HIV and AIDS

  • It promotes and sustains dialogue and collaboration in HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support particularly among elected leaders;
  • It collaborates with the Executive, members of parliament, the private sector, relevant civil society organizations, in particular network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA);
  • It develops and lobbies for the adoption, by all parliaments, of model legislation on HIV and AIDS relating to issues of discrimantion and prejudice, protecting women, orphans and vulnerable chuldren (OVC), among others;
  • It identifies and responds to emerging technologies and therapies as they relate to the optimal prevention, care and treatment of people living with, or at risk of HIV, including nonconventional therapies;
  • It lobbies for and shares best practices on effective parliamentary committees on HIV and AIDS;
  • It identifies and promotes educational opportunities for the people of SADC that relate to the optimal care and treatment of people living with, or at risk of HIV;
  • It develops mechanisms for ensuring accountability and among leaders and governments; and ensures ongoing funding, both public and private, for the treatment and management of HIV in the SADC region;
  • It ensures through legislative supervision, ongoing excellence in HIV research and evaluation of treatment, care and support;
  • It builds regional and national capacity to exercise effective budget monitoring;
  • It generates goals and priorities for policy and legislation review;
  • It mainstreams guidelines and standards of care for PLWHA throughout all program activities of the Forum.

Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus

  • It promotes advocacy and lobbying campaigns to promote women's representation in all decision-making positions in political parties at national and regional levels;
  • It develops a women's agenda for the Forum and national parliaments including developng strategic programmes, creating a plan of action and outcome document to ensure effective implementation of programmes in the region;
  • It complements the agenda of the national Women's Parliamentary Caucus in monitoring/supervisory role in women's political participation and representation;
  • Ensures effective participation and representation of Women in the institution of parliament, its structures in the Forum and other relevant international initiatives;
  • It compiles and shares a database of women role models in the region based on good practices to promote women in positions of power and decision-making;
  • It provides substantive input in the national processes of political parties' decision-maiking bodies, intra-party democracy reviews, electoral systems reforms and legislation on women's participation and representation;
  • It lobbied for the ratification, implementation and dissemination of information on international and regional treaties/protocols and conventions on women's rights in collaboration with committees responsible for gender and human rights;
  • It facilitates additional empowerment and knowledge transfer strategies for national women's parliamentary caucases and women candidates;
  • It monitors and dissaminates information on women's participation in positions of power and decision-making;
  • It works to increase women's political opportunities and visibility by developing regional messages on women's representation and leadership;
  • It advocates for electoral and other legislative and costitutional reviews and reforms that guarantee equal participation and representation of women and men in positions of power and decision-making;
  • It advocates and contributes to the creation of a conducive and peaceful environment for women to participate in elections;
  • It advocates and lobbies for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals with a special focus on improving the general livelihoods of women.

The Secretary-General and the Secretariat

The Secretary General serves as Chief Executive of SADC Parliamentary Forum. At the moment, the Secretary-General is Esau Chiviya from Zimbabwe. The Secretariat is composed of 28 members and is supposed to support the Secretary General in its work and acts as the main executive body of the SADC-PF, i.e. the administrative centre responsible for running the organisation.

 
©2001 - 2012 - Centro Studi sul Federalismo - P. IVA 94067130016