The Herald Harare Zvamaida Murwira and Julia Mugadzaweta
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

The Sadc Parliamentary Forum’s transformation into a regional legislative assembly has remained elusive for the past two decades despite extensive lobbying by several member countries, it has emerged.SADC-PF secretary-general, Dr Esau Chivhiya said despite Sadc being the first to constitute such a forum en-route to transforming it into a regional parliament, they still lagged behind as all other regional fora in Africa had been turned into legislative assemblies.

Dr Chivhiya said this on Friday while addressing the 40th Plenary Assembly Session of SADC-PF in Harare whose theme is: « Statelessness in the Sadc Region. »

« Despite all the lobbying efforts by the SADC-PF leadership for the Forum to be transformed into a SADC Regional Parliament, 20 years after it was established SADC-PF still remains a forum and not a SADC Regional Parliament. It is the only region, out of the five regions of Africa without its own regional parliament, » said Dr Chivhiya.

He said the failure to elevate the forum was evident despite the fact that its major objective for its inception in terms of the Sadc Treaty was, « to constitute a Parliamentary Consultative Assembly, the unlimited goal being the establishment of a Regional Parliamentary Framework for dialogue on issues of regional interest and concern. »

Speaking at the same occasion, SADC-PF vice president Mr Joseph Njobvuyalema echoed the same sentiments saying it was sad that the regional body had not attained one of the objectives that it set out.

« The SADC-PF was established on September 6, 1997 in Blantyre, Malawi by the SADC Summit of heads of State. « It is on record that it was established to constitute an environmentally conservative assembly. The ultimate goal was to establish a SADC region of parliament that would review cross country issues of interest and concern, regrettably 19 years on, there is still just a parliament preliminary reform.

Whilst we were the front runners in establishing regional parliamentary framework, we are now the only region in Africa without a regional parliament, » said Mr Njobvuyalema who is from Malawi.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was guest of honour at the event said, his advice was for SADC-PF to solicit the support of SADC Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Recently, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told legislators in Harare that despite financial implications of constituting a regional parliament, it would mean that member countries would have to surrender their legislative powers, something he said had not yet been done.

Minister Mumbengegwi urged SADC-PF to come up with a pool of model laws, which each member country would select voluntarily instead.