Cape Town, South Africa – A parliamentary delegation from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) attended the Second High Level Meeting (HLM2) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) under AWEPA’s Strengthening SADC Parliamentary Engagement in the Budget Cycle programme funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The HLM2 took place in Nairobi, Kenya between 28 November and 1 December 2016 and is the most recent in a number of international fora aimed towards leveraging development partnerships to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The event provided a unique opportunity for the delegation – consisting of parliamentarians from the National Assemblies of Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe – to showcase the evolving nature of SADC parliaments in their engagement in the budget cycle on an international platform. The parliamentary delegates were able to make an impact at this HLM by their substantive inputs to both the outcome document of the HLM2, and that of the Parliamentary Forum, which preceded the main event.
Despite numerous commitments made to the Institution of Parliament by development partners in previous outcome documents of HLMs since 2005, parliaments continue to be ignored as key agents in development cooperation. Thus, on their arrival in the Conference vicinity, the SADC parliamentarians participated in a strategic planning meeting to ensure common purpose in calling for recognition at the HLM2. During this meeting the SADC parliamentarians benefited from the presence of Lord David Chidgey, from the UK House of Lords, Political coordinator for AWEPA’s Strengthening SADC Parliamentary Engagement in the Budget Cycle programme.
Serious contributions were made by the delegates at the Parliamentary Forum hosted by the Kenyan Parliament, AWEPA and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU). Hon. Mwalimu Simfukwe, the Chair of the Estimates (Budget) Committee in Zambia, spoke to the strengthening role of the Zambian Parliament in overseeing Official Development Assistance (ODA), catalysed by a recent constitutional amendment in January 2016. He highlighted the problems that arise when MPs are not aware of the aid flowing into the country, as it undermines oversight ability and reduces the potential for mutual accountability among partners – one of the core tenets of the Global Partnership. Hon. Simfukwe urged development partners to realise the changing engagement of SADC parliaments in budgetary oversight by engaging and supporting parliaments in their efforts towards effective development to meet the SDGs.
SADC MPs also participated in one of the side events co-hosted by AWEPA, the IPU and ECOSOC entitled Parliaments and the Public in Accountability. During this session the call was made by parliamentarians and CSOs for mutual accountability and respect in all ODA partnerships. Parliamentarians stressed that their institutions are in need of financial and technical support to ensure they optimise their critical function in development budget scrutiny and oversight to meet the SDGs.
Through their participation in the various plenary sessions, the parliamentarians were able to air their views on the role of parliaments in the Global Partnership, on an international platform, with the aim to encourage trust in parliamentarians as key elected agents of change on the local level.
The SADC delegates conveyed that their experience gained from their participation in the HLM2 will be fed back to their parliaments, through their Speakers and the various parliamentary committees they chair.
As another MP, Dr. Jonas Chanda of Zambia stated, as a first respondent on the Plenary session entitled Leaving No-One Behind, “…We as Parliamentarians face the realities in our countries…development partners need to prioritise the use of parliaments and not only the executive arm of government and civil society, as we are the ones involved in the oversight of the national budget…”. This was to say that the institution of parliament should not be left behind.
Ms. Lerato Lehohla, Parliament of Lesotho; Hon. Rhino Chiphiko and Mr. Harold Kwalimba, Parliament of Malawi; Hon. Mike Kavekotora, Mr. Job Nelson Kisaka and Ms. Lydia Kandetu, Parliament of Namibia; Hon. Mwalimu Simfukwe, Hon. Dr. Jonas Chanda and Mr. Aubrey Chiwati, Parliament of Zambia; Hon. Felix Mhona and Mr. Pepukai Chivore, Parliament of Zimbabwe.