PAP observes the Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum

The 45th Plenary Assembly Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum whose pre-meetings started on 15 July 2019 in the capital Maputo was officially opened by the President of the Republic of Mocambique, H.E Filipe Jacinto NYUSI on 21 July, 2019.

SADC Parliamentary Forum is a regional inter-parliamentary body composed of Members of Parliament from SADC Member State national parliaments, to facilitate strategic partnerships within the SADC region, promote information sharing, initiate and implement projects that enhance regional integration as well as to promote effective and professional parliamentary practice.

Held at the Joaquim Chissano International Conference Centre under the theme "Climate Change, Mitigation and Adaptation; the Role of Parliaments towards implementing the Paris Declaration and the Katowice Roadmap," the Plenary is scheduled to end on 25 July, 2019.

Beginning his address, President Nyusi called for a minute of silence in honor of the victims of the recent cyclones. He underscored that the choice of theme related to climate change was timely and had real meaning to the people of Mocambique who recently lost lives, livelihoods and property to cyclones Kenneth and Idai, that also caused havoc in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The President appreciated rescue efforts and post assistance that continues to date by the SADC countries adding that “Climate change entails a whole set of attitudes and responses/efforts. It is not enough to discover weather patterns and climate change, but we are compelled to be proactive. I therefore implore this Plenary to also reflect on how legal instruments could ensure protection of natural resources and reserves in our region.”

On the other hand, the President said the anticipated graduation of SADC-PF into a fully-fledged regional Parliament would be a token of the aspirations of the people of the region. The Summit of heads of state has recommitted to integration “We cannot afford to continue to be an island. The regional integration process is consolidating our region and we must play our part,” the President said.

Addressing the Plenary, PAP fourth Vice-President Hon. Chief Fortune CHARUMBIRA elaborated on the Continental Parliament’s representational mandate and urged SADC Parliamentarians to reflect on whether they are doing enough. The Vice-President called on Legislators to put more effort and take more responsibility in ensuring that Governments have and understand all instruments meant to transform the region.

“This is key and will also pave way for a lot more developments. Most importantly, it will facilitate the mitigation of the climate challenges. The SADC Parliamentary Forum transformation into a fully-fledged regional parliament is a good development and it is important to bear in mind the crucial requirements such as funding,” said Chief Charumbira.

The opening ceremony was attended by Parliamentarian delegates from the SADC member states, observer institutions and stakeholders such as the Pan-African Parliament and the Southern African Development Community; Development Partners that include GIZ as well as the Civil Society.

A symposium on the theme "Climate Change, Mitigation and Adaptation: the role of Parliaments towards implementing the Paris Declaration and the Katowice Roadmap," set the tone for the week-long agenda of the Plenary, with countries directly bearing the brunt of climate change in the region as well as the survivors of the recent cyclones sharing their experiences.

Dr. Augusta MAITA, Director of the Disaster Management Authority of Mocambique reported that the two cyclones had affected 1,8 million people and destroyed 300 000 houses among others.

Newly elected Speaker of the Parliament of Malawi Hon. Catherine Gotani HARA put before the Plenary that the impact of the cyclones on Women was both psychological and social. Urging Parliamentarians to lobby for increased budgets to meet the challenges presented by climate change, she also testified that some women have had to compromise themselves while at their lowest point of need.

“The challenge is not just about displacement and infrastructure. Urgent action is required. Some women living with HIV had their documentation and medication washed away and had to skip treatment for a few weeks due to poor health systems records," she emphasized.

On the other hand, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) appealed for ratification of the Environment Protocol. Ms. Sibongile MAVIMELA, Senior Programme Officer said to date, only three countries; the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Republic of Namibia and the Republic of South Africa have ratified the protocol.

“I would like to plead with countries to work towards ratification of this protocol. It will assist us to enforce recognition of the climate sector in our countries. Its ratification will also facilitate the funding/budget required by countries in the region to be able to mitigate climate change. We may not be able to harness the benefits of the newly ratified Continental Free-Trade Area if only trade and infrastructure take precedence over climate change, which on the other hand negatively affects every sector," she stated.