The Hague, the Netherlands – Dutch Member of Parliament Hon. Marit Maij was elected as new Chair of the AWEPA Section in the Dutch Parliament. Hon. Maij was introduced by former Dutch AWEPA Chair and former Member of Parliament, Ms. Chantal Gill’ard, who expressed the sentiment felt by others at AWEPA that it is an honour that Hon. Maij is willing to take on this important role. Hon. Maij noted that “it is very important to have contact between various groups in society from Europe and from Africa”, and to maintain “good relations between European and African Parliamentarians”. She spoke of person to person relationships, good communication, and gender balanced parliaments as some of her concrete initiatives; she also believes that “the motivation and participation of women, and gender equality, is of the utmost importance”.
Following the election, a meeting was held on “Perspectives on Zimbabwe’s Future Political Development”. Mr. Theo Kralt, AWEPA Chief Administrative Officer, presented AWEPA’s programme in Zimbabwe on behalf of Ms. Longwe, AWEPA’s Director Partner Relations. Ms. Longwe was due to speak about AWEPA’s activities in Zimbabwe, however she prioritised her attendance at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa in representation of AWEPA’s President, Ms. Miet Smet.
Following a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Zimbabwean Parliament in 2012, AWEPA has been active with a capacity building programme in the country. AWEPA’s support features two main components: capacity building for both parliamentary members and staff, as well as a Zimbabwean-based civil society organisation called the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST). Capacity building for SAPST involves providing legislative analysis, as well as drafting oversight enhancement relating to human rights and gender equity.
Mr. Isaac Maposa, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Institute, spoke about the current political context and the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) programme. Mr. Maposa informed the participants about the support of the Institute and NIMD to peace building, reducing violence, the Constitution, the Election Code of Conduct and capacity building of the newly elected members.