On 10-12 May 2017 the AWEPA Budgetary Scrutiny and Oversight (BOS) project organised and held a Southern Africa Regional Seminar under the DfID-funded project: Strengthening SADC Parliamentary Engagement in the Budget Cycle.
The key objective of the seminar was to empower parliaments with information, and address a lack of regional dialogue among select SADC parliaments, particularly with regard to their engagement in the budget. Moreover, the seminar provided space for SADC parliaments to showcase their unique engagement in the budget process to allow parliaments to strategise their own institutional development on budgetary matters from an informed knowledge base.
The Seminar was attended by high-level Parliamentarians, including four presiding officers, ten MPs, including committee chairs and 18 senior staff from the Parliaments of Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, as well as a representative from South Africa’s Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) . Legislative and budget experts from Africa and abroad were also in attendance.
Honourable Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, opened the Seminar on behalf of the SADC partner parliaments, while Lord Jonathan Oates, AWEPA Governing Council Member and Vice-Chairperson of the United Kingdom (UK) Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group gave a welcoming address on behalf of AWEPA. An inspirational Keynote address was delivered by the Honourable Ntlhoi Motsamai, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Lesotho. Lesotho Upper House President, HE Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso provided key input and a vote of thanks at the close of the Seminar. The diversity of participants provided for vibrant debate and cross-country sharing of experiences.
Deliberations were preceded by expert and comparative data presentations. Insights by academics from abroad provided delegates with an additional comparative perspective with parliaments outside SADC. Parliamentarians stated that the seminar had presented a unique opportunity for exposure to comparative data of this nature, and to showcase their parliamentary models of budget engagement. Towards the end of the seminar delegates had the opportunity to come up with tangible strategies for future capacity development efforts in partnership with AWEPA.
A joint statement adopted at the close of the Seminar emphasised the need for continued regional cooperation and coordination, as well as strengthening mechanisms for increased parliamentary budget oversight and scrutiny. It was agreed that enhancing skills and practice in budget oversight contribute towards the delivery of citizens’ essential needs, and therefore parliaments resolved to act towards enhancing independent fiscal institutions, such as PBOs.