The Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum (PF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate in supporting the implementation of SADC regional programmes.
The MOU was signed on 31 October 2023 by SARDC Executive Director Mr Munetsi Madakufamba and SADC PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma on the sidelines of the 26th SARDC Board Meeting held in the Namibian capital Windhoek from 30-31 October 2023.
Madakufamba noted that the formalisation of the already long-standing cooperation between SARDC and SADC PF was crucial in assisting the SADC Member States with implementation of decisions made by the SADC Summit and other regional structures.
“There are lot of policies that have been put in place. We are talking about no less than 30 SADC protocols that have been adopted in various areas and parliaments play an important role in making sure that those protocols are aligned with national policies and laws,” Madakufamba noted.
He added that, “As the SARDC, we package these policies in a manner that can be understood by the broader public and, in the process, make it easier for Member States to identify areas that require action on their part.”
The work of the two organisations is complementary in that while SADC PF is the regional body tasked with ensuring broader citizen participation in regional affairs and facilitating that regional protocols are ratified and domesticated into national legislation, the SARDC has more than 35 years of experience in research and policy analysis that informs regional development.
On her part, Sekgoma said the MOU would go a long way in assisting SADC PF with documenting and profiling the role of parliaments in SADC regional integration processes, as well as in documenting citizen engagement processes of participatory democracy.
“We have been having these public hearings with no insightful documentation on the various regions of SADC,” Sekgoma said.
She noted that the lack of documentation has resulted in gaps in knowledge about how, for instance, regional integration issues are perceived in various countries and the various regions of SADC such as in Lusophone Member States.
SARDC Board Chairperson, Professor Peter Katjavivi described the MOU as the beginning of “an exciting journey of partners as we pursue the agenda for development of our region.”
“We are embarking upon something very exciting. It’s a journey of partnership between the work that we do as a regional research body or think tank and working with you as leaders of our various national parliaments, coordinated by you at the secretariat level,” Katjavivi said.
The MOU comes at a time the Forum is in the process of being transformed into the SADC Regional Parliament following the approval, by the 41st SADC Summit held in Malawi in August 2021, of a proposal to transform.
This was followed by the signing during the 42nd SADC Summit held in August 2022 in the Democratic Republic of Congo of an agreement amending the SADC Treaty to formalise the transformation of the SADC PF into the SADC Parliament.
The SADC Regional Parliament is intended to ensure broader citizen participation in regional affairs and facilitate more extensive debate on regional issues. This is expected to accelerate the implementation of SADC protocols that need to be ratified and domesticated into national legislation.
Through the MOU, SARDC and SADC PF undertook to carry out joint activities that will build on this complementarity, with the ultimate aim of contributing to A Common Future as envisaged by the SADC Treaty.
Such activities would include supporting the implementation of regional strategic development plans through joint research and policy analysis, and capacitating parliamentarians across the region on SADC regional integration issues.
The 26th SARDC Board Meeting discussed how the regional knowledge resource centre should position itself as it continues to support the regional integration processes within the SADC region.
Among other issues, the board reviewed progress in the implementation of the SARDC Three-Year Plan 2021-2023 and discussed issues to be included in the next three-year strategic plan that would cover the period 2024-2026.
It also discussed implementation of SARDC’s long-standing partnership with the SADC Secretariat with whom the organisation has had an MOU since 2005.
Although cooperation with the SADC Secretariat was only formalised in 2005, the collaboration between the two organisations dates back to the early 1990s when they jointly published the first-ever Southern African State of the Environment in Southern Africa that came out in 1994.
SARDC has since 2014 produced the annual SADC Summit Publication on behalf of the SADC Secretariat. The publication is distributed during the annual SADC Ordinary Summits and profiles some of the main activities undertaken by the various directorates and units at the SADC Secretariat in-between the Summits.
SARDC is an independent regional knowledge resource centre that undertakes research that informs development.
Established in 1985, SARDC has a good track record of experience and expertise in research, collecting, analysing, writing, and communicating information in the most accessible way for different target audiences including decision-makers, the media and the general public, at national and regional level.
Information is packaged and disseminated in different forms including, as factsheets, policy briefs, books/reports, posters, brochures and through periodicals and online feature articles.
SARDC has a virtual and physical library accessible to all and the products are available both in print and online at www.sardc.net Knowledge for Development.
Southern Africa Today, Southern African News Features and policy papers are among publications that are produced by SARDC in collaboration with the SADC Secretariat.
SARDC works with SADC through an MOU that is rooted in a clear understanding of the importance of information access and communication to the achievement of regional integration and development, and the importance of “research that informs development”.
SARDC has a team of researchers and writers who are knowledgeable on regional integration and development, and related issues, and are thus able to assist and advise SADC on regional aspects of cross-border communication.
The SARDC Board represents various disciplines and is drawn from the SADC region, chaired by Hon. Professor Peter H. Katjavivi, MP, from Namibia.
About SADC PF
Was established in 1997 in accordance with Article 9 (2) of the SADC Treaty as an autonomous institution of SADC.
It is a regional inter-parliamentary body composed of fifteen (15) parliaments representing over 3500 parliamentarians in the SADC region.
These member parliaments are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Forum seeks to bring regional experiences to bear at the national level, to promote best practices in the role of parliaments in regional cooperation and integration as outlined in the SADC Treaty and the Forum Constitution.
Its main aim is to provide a platform for parliaments and parliamentarians to promote and improve regional integration in the SADC region, through parliamentary involvement. More on www.sadcpf.org/