SADC PF gets legislative status
History was made in Arusha on October 20 when the SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) was upgraded to a full-fledged regional legislative assembly. The body’s status was raised during the official opening the 34th SADC-PF Plenary Assembly under the theme “Benchmarking the conduct and assessment of elections in Southern Africa”.
Tanzania’s Vice President Dr Mohammed Gharib-Bilal called for improved monitoring and coverage of general elections on the continent by both the media and foreign observers to allay fears and speculation about vote rigging. Dr Bilal also called for empowering of electoral bodies and observer platforms so they can sufficiently perform their functions in order to render them more independent and execute their tasks without being hampered by political or monetary influences.
The Speaker of Tanzania’s National Assembly, Anne Makinda, used the occasion to remind the delegates about the importance of women representation in parliaments.
“I am, however, glad that Tanzania, which has 36 percent female representatives in the National Assembly, tops other SADC countries in having more women in Parliament,” she said, hastening to point out that the majority of women making up the figure were special seat nominees.
“We are now seriously lobbying through our revised constitutional process to have a 50-50 ratio between male and female representatives in Parliament come the 2015 general elections,” stated Makinda, adding that this time around the country would work to have more elected women MPs.
The Speaker challenged women to run for various elective offices. The SADC PF meeting, which is the final one before the forum becomes a full-fledged Parliament, attracted participants from 14 Southern African countries.
The body has been operating as an inter-parliamentary institution and has all the rights and privileges enjoyed by other SADC institutions. Apart from its Democracy and Governance Programme, the organisation has four other task areas, namely Parliamentary Capacity Development, Regional Development and Integration, HIV/Aids and Public Health, as well as Gender Equality and Empowerment. The Forum has been meeting twice a year to make policy decisions and recommendations to SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government on various issues.
Each member Parliament appoints a presiding officer and MPs, reflecting the gender and political composition of Parliament in line with the constitution of the Forum. – Tanzania Daily News