Thabiso Scotch Mufambi
Harare – The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF), through its six Standing Committees, from April 9 to 16 held virtual meetings to prepare for the organisation’s 49th Plenary Assembly Session to be hosted by Botswana in June.
At the assembly, all the committees will table their reports.
The agenda of the meetings included orientation of new members, deliberation on thematic issues of regional concern, consultation and validation of the framework for developing regional reference documents on the role of Parliaments in curbing corruption, strengthening accountability, and the protection and promotion of human rights in Southern Africa.
The standing committees include the Regional Parliamentary Model Law Oversight Committee chaired by Mr Leon Tumba (DRC); the Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment chaired by Mr Anele Ndebele (Zimbabwe); and the Standing Committee on Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources, also chaired by Mr Tumba.
Others are the Standing Committee on Democratisation, Governance and Human Rights, chaired by Mr Jeronima Agostihno (Mozambique); the Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Women Advancement and Youth Development, chaired by Mr Peete Peete Ramoqai (from); and the Standing Committee on Human and Social Development and Special Programmes, chaired by Ms Bertha Ndebele (Malawi).
The Model Law Oversight Committee urged member states to acquaint themselves with progress made by Zambia and Zimbabwe in domesticating the model law on child marriages, for example.
“The objective is to assess and document Zambia’s and Zimbabwe’s progress in domesticating the model laws and report to Plenary. We will use the experience to enhance the committee members’ knowledge on progress and strategies for the domestication of model laws in trans-boundary contexts such as border towns,” she said.
The Standing Committee on Trade called on SADC countries to harmonise systems to reduce challenges such as cross-border trade costs and delays.
“The model of the One Stop Border Post, birthed around the year 2000, is one of the modern approaches to improving border operations and trade infrastructure. This trade facilitation tool is envisaged to promote a coordinated and integrated approach to facilitating trade in goods and services, facilitating the movement of people and to improving security,” said Ms Ndebele.
She added: “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have clearly demonstrated that even if significant progress on digital transformation and the e-Commerce Agenda is to be achieved, goods still need to physically cross borders and undergo all border procedures. As such, the acceleration of the model of One Stop Border Post in the Southern African region and Africa at large cannot be overstated.”