SERIALONG LELUMA RAMPO
MASERU – Lesotho legislators will be part of a session of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum (PF) that will be discussing regional conflict matters. These matters will be unfolded during the online sitting of the SADC Parliamentary Forum’s 51st Plenary Assembly Session that will be held virtually from November 25 to November under the theme ‘Consolidating democracy by bringing parliament to the people.’
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, Speaker of the National Assembly, Tlohang Sekhamane, said the forum would among others help members meet and share ideas on good governance and development on good health for people living in the SADC region. He said the development will be economic, political and social-cultural including democracy, free trade of goods and services, human rights issues, gender-based violence as well as laws that govern each country and food security.
“The mandate of this forum is to ensure that voices of Members of Parliament, as public representatives, be included in the SADC decisions and be able to act as the country’s watchdogs when SADC agreements, treaties and protocols declarations are put to practice by nations,” Sekhamane said. He thus encouraged that SADC PF Plenary Assembly discusses all issues tabled through motions from a multi-dimensional perspective, bearing in mind the regional stake within the rapidly evolving international context.
“Ultimately, our aim is to improve the quality of life and standard of living of our fellow citizens within SADC region, not leaving aside the smooth operation between the countries,” he said. Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Tšepang Mosena stated at the same event that that the plenary attendance is characterised by a delegation of MPs from each SADC Member State, further stating that everyone will be allowed to be part of the forum.
“The online session means every Mosotho is at liberty to be part of this session and is allowed to point out views and make comments. But for those who have no access to internet, the only way we can bring the business of the SADC PF to the country is by the reports that members of the PF bring to our own parliament then passed on to different constituencies,” Mosena said.
The forum was formed in 1997 by SADC Heads of State and Governments in accordance with Article 9 (2) of the SADC Treaty as the independent body composed of fifteen parliaments representing over 3500 parliamentarians in the SADC region. These Member parliaments are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, eSwatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The parliament of Lesotho has since been a member of the meeting and hosted the first plenary in 2003.