The Sadc Parliamentary Forum (Sadc-PF) plans to transform into a fully-fledged regional legislative body, delegates to its 32nd Plenary Assembly in Mangochi were told on Monday.
Speaking at the opening of the three-day meeting, Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda said the forumâ€™s ultimate goal is to have a fully fledged parliamentary body that will have legislative powers just like the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) and the Ecowas Parliament.
Said the Speaker: â€œToday, more than ever before, there exists a sense of urgency to transform our organisation from being consultative one to being a legislative one.
â€œThe absence of such a body is the missing link in our integration efforts..â€
In his address to the delegates, Vice-President Khumbo Kachali expressed Malawiâ€™s commitment in supporting the desire for the forum to transform itself.
â€œA Sadc [Southern Africa Development Community] Parliament, once established, it will not only add to the number of Sadc institutions but also ensure the inclusion of the voice of the people in the affairs of Sadc through their elected representatives,â€ said the VP. He, however, observed that such a process should be complemented with a process of also granting some legislative powers to the Pan African Parliament.
Kachali expressed concern that although members in the past welcomed a Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development, there has been stagnation in politics, where recent Malawi by-election results show a decrease in the number of women decision-makers.
Said Kachali: â€œWhat we are calling for through gender equality and women empowerment is not for women to be extended favours, women do not need that. We only want a level playing field so that we can show our worth in serving the Sadc citizenry.â€
He also said although the region has made strides in economic integration by forming a Free Trade Area (FTA), due to several challenges that include multiple membership to various economic communities, the region is yet to form a customs union.
Chairperson of the Sadc-PF Jonathan Moyo said during the last plenary session held in Maputo, Mozambique in July this year members already resolved that beginning from the next session, the forum will start operating like a parliament, following all parliamentary procedures.