George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) has thrown its weight behind plans to establish a SADC Regional Parliament, which will, among other things, enact robust legislation to combat climate change in the wake of recurring natural disasters such as Cyclone Idai that swept across Southern Africa early this year.
Cyclone Idai left a trail of devastation, ravaging infrastructure and killing more than 1 200 people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, Government and development partners are spearheading reconstruction efforts in battered areas, amid growing calls for formulation of policies that help arrest the effects of climate change.
Speaking during the official opening ceremony of the 45th Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum in Maputo last Monday, PAP vice president Chief Fortune Charumbira said the SADC Regional Parliament would bring Southern Africa into the league of other regional blocs such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which have such institutions.
The Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, which runs from July 21- 26 is being held under the theme, “Climate Change, Mitigation and Adaptation: The Role of Parliaments Towards Implementing the Paris Declaration and the Katowice Roadmap”.
Chief Charumbira said the devastation caused in Southern Africa by Cyclone Idai demonstrated the urgent need for the region to enact legislation that will help in combating the negative impacts of climate change.
“It would be remiss if I were to take my seat without tackling the issue of the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a Regional Parliament,’’ he said.
“The Bureau of the PAP is well aware of the efforts of the SADC PF towards transformation. The exuberance exuded by your able leadership in the Executive Committee and the lively debates on the transformation agenda have not gone unnoticed.’’
Chief Charumbira said PAP was fully behind opening of a SADC regional parliament and would continue to lobby Heads of State and Government within the bloc to endorse the move.
“Recent benchmarking visits, including one to the PAP, have keenly been followed by the PAP and be assured that the PAP is in support of a SADC Regional Parliament,” he said. If the EALA and ECOWAS have parliaments, why not SADC?
“The Bureau of the PAP is privileged to interact with Heads of State and Government at various forums. I assure you that we will push your agenda until we realise the dream of a SADC Parliament. It will not, and never die a pipedream. Be assured. A transformed SADC PF will work better towards addressing climate change through legislation for the region.’’
Chief Charumbira said developing countries largely remained vulnerable to climate change due to their low adaptive capacity and growing dependence on resources sensitive to changes in climate.
He said setting up institutions such as a SADC regional parliament would create a platform for strengthening policy and making institutional arrangements that facilitate enhanced capacity to deal with climate change mitigation and adaptation.
“Climate change is a cross-cutting phenomenon, affecting not only the environment, but society, food supply, socio-economics, natural resources, and disaster risk reduction and responses,” said Chief Charumbira.
Southern Africa, particularly Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, were affected by the ravaging Cyclone Idai earlier this year. Thousands of lives were lost, several were left homeless and infrastructure worth millions of dollars was destroyed.’
Chief Charumbira said there was urgent need for sub-Saharan African states to find ways of mitigating the effects of climate change, which is expected to continue causing depletion of arable land and the dwindling of food sources.