Cape Town, South Africa – AWEPA’s programme on Strengthening SADC Parliamentary Engagement in the Budget Cycle – funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) – was recently implemented in the Parliament of Zambia in November 2016. This is the fifth parliament, following Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Malawi, where the programme has been launched. The data collection phase aims to address the paucity of existing empirical information on African legislatures in general, and in particular, on their engagement in the national budget process.
The AWEPA Cape Town team received a warm welcome from the Parliament of Zambia, as MPs and staff prepared for the budget sitting. The team conducted interviews with approximately fifteen members of parliament and another fifteen staff members, most of whom had served an excess of a decade in the parliament. These interactions were a rich source of institutional data on parliamentary engagement in the budget, which complimented the data gathered from legal documentation.
Once processed and analysed, the information gathered will be presented back to the Parliament in the form of a national focus group discussion due to take place in early March 2017, before the Regional Seminar with all partner parliaments in April 2017. These activities comprise the grounding for much-needed national and regional peer-to-peer reflection on the evolving engagement in the budget cycle among Southern African Parliaments, as a necessary stage for devising endogenous strategies for parliamentary development.