Parliaments are critical state institutions. A fully functioning legislature is a pre-requisite to democratic growth, economic development, and the reduction of poverty. From a development context, strong parliamentary engagement in the budget process speaks to precisely what the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and other development partners are trying to achieve.
Building upon similar developments in East Africa, parliaments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is taking demonstrable steps towards greater engagement in the budget process. In some cases, advances have been made towards establishing Budget Committees and Parliamentary Budget Offices, putting SADC legislatures in a position to engage in the formulation of the state budget in addition to their already strong engagement in the auditory phase.
However, given the colonial legacies inherited and the conditions in which these legislatures began, the pathways towards such developments and the consequences of these institutional innovations represent areas of uncharted territory.
For this reason, the Strengthening SADC Parliamentary Engagement in the Budget Cycle programme brings together Members and staff of the Parliaments of Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana for the purpose of further exploring legislative engagement across the whole of the budget process, facilitating a peer-to-peer process of discovery and support.
The programme is designed to empower selected SADC legislatures to generate and implement development strategies for the budget process within the framework of a peer-to-peer learning process and dialogue. The programme aims to encourage parliaments in SADC to reflect on their engagement in the budget process overall, and in particular the formulation phase. It is ultimately expected that the programme will contribute to a strategy for budgetary engagement that takes into account both independent comparative information and country needs.
The programme is designed to unfold according to three, inter-related phases of implementation. Owing to the lack of existing comparable data on African legislatures and their engagement in the budges process, the programme will begin by collecting such data from each of the six SADC legislatures involved in the project. Here, the real-time engagement of each parliament in the budget process will be explored alongside its institutional history in relation to budgetary matters.
Once the relevant data has been gathered in each parliament, the material will then be used to incite and support evidence-based dialogue both at a national, regional and international levels. These dialogue moments will provide a unique opportunity for peer-to-peer reflection, creating space in which participating parliaments can explore viable strategies that suit their particular legislative needs.
Finally, the ideas and conclusions that emanate from such reflection will form the energetic basis upon which further strategies for budgetary engagement are shared, developed and implemented in each parliament through the close of the project in 2018.
Recent and upcoming activities
- Research Coordination Meeting (February)
- Data Collection Lesotho (May)
- National Focus Group, Parliament of Namibia (August)
- SADC Parliamentary Delegation to the 2nd High Level Meeting of the GPEDC (November)
- Joint AWEPA-OECD Parliamentary Budget Office Conference (December)