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SADC approves formation of regional parliament

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has approved the transformation of its parliamentary forum into a regional parliament, ending years…

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has approved the transformation of its parliamentary forum into a regional parliament, ending years of contentions as some countries saw the move as a threat to their national sovereignty.Leaders of the 16-member regional bloc said at the end of their two-day 41st annual summit in the Malawian capital Lilongwe on Tuesday that they had “approved the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament as a consultative and a deliberative body.” 

The transformation of the SADC PF into a SADC Regional Parliament has been on the table since 2004, with all previous attempts being shot down by regional leaders.

The SADC PF is an autonomous institution of SADC established in 1997 as a regional inter-parliamentary body made up of 14 national parliaments, representing over 3,500 parliamentarians in southern Africa. 

The member parliaments are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The forum has, however, hitherto been unable to fully contribute to policy making that is important for regional integration because its formal role on SADC matters has not been realized. 

This has seen the SADC PF embarking on a process over the years to develop a working relationship with the SADC Secretariat to create space for parliamentarians to participate more formally in regional integration processes.

The regional parliament is expected to facilitate the ratification and domestication of SADC protocols and other legal instruments as well as the continental and international treaties or agreements which the region has acceded to. 

Once operational, the SADC Regional Parliament would draft and approve model laws of common interest that will assist in improving the quality of life of citizens of the region.

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