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SADC PF commends Mauritius for commitment to its work and values

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Moses Magadza

Port Louis, Mauritius – The President of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum (PF) and Speaker of the Seychelles National Assembly of Mauritius, Honourable Roger Mancienne, has commended Mauritius, one of the founding members of the SADC PF, for her consistent participation in the work of the Forum.

Hon Mancienne made the remarks at the official opening of the Fifty-Fourth Plenary Assembly of the SADC PF that was hosted by the Mauritius National Assembly in Port Louis from 22 to 26 November, 2023.


The plenary was held under the theme: “The Role of Parliaments in Promoting Coordination for Enhanced Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Planning in the SADC Region”.

He expressed appreciation to the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Honourable Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, for officially opening the Plenary.


Speaking directly to the Prime Minister, Hon Mancienne said: “We are grateful that you have taken time to be with us, showing the commitment and support that you bring for the vital work of the SADC PF.”

He also expressed appreciation to the Speaker of the Mauritius National Assembly of Mauritius, Hon Sooroojdev Phokeer, for hosting the assembly at the parliament of Mauritius.

He noted that over the years, current and former Members from Mauritius played pivotal roles in various leadership positions in SADC PF organs.

“These include former Speaker Hon Abdool Razack Peeroo, who as the President of the SADC PF from 2012 to 2014, brought invaluable leadership and expertise during his tenure,” Hon Mancienne added.

He recalled that Hon Peeroo had made a vital contribution in the transformative journey towards becoming the SADC Parliament.

“More than a decade ago, during the 35th Plenary Assembly held here in Mauritius in June 2014, SADC PF took a major step towards institutionalising its Rules of Procedure in a document titled ‘Operating like a Parliament’.”


Honourable Mancienne said it was Hon Peeroo, who defined the essence of Operating like a Parliament.

“In his words: ‘Operating like a Parliament means changing our operational modalities from the hitherto conference style to one similar to a parliamentary institution. . .”


He acknowledged significant progress made in pursuit of the envisaged transformation which offers “us the opportunity to deepen our engagement in regional matters and elevate our collective voice to effect change that will positively impact the lives of the people of our region”.

In line with the theme of the Plenary, Hon Mancienne urged legislators to remain
committed to and reinforce the pivotal role of Parliaments in conflict prevention and diplomacy, in building strong institutions engaged in democratic governance and marshalling development and progress in the region and positioning Parliaments as strongholds of inclusivity, diversity, tolerance, stability and democracy.


He said climatic events had devastated the lives of SADC citizens, with vulnerable groups, such as women and children being the most severely affected.


“It is not the first time we have devoted a plenary assembly to this subject. We are not overdoing it. We cannot let go of this issue because it is of crucial importance to our region and to the whole world,” he stressed.

Honourable Mancienne said the Plenary would deliberate on reports of Standing Committees and the Regional Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, containing regional issues submitted by citizens through virtual public hearings from 11 to 18 October, representing the voices and concerns of the citizens of the region.

“The current SADC PF Strategic Plan for the period 2019-2023, will end in December 2023. As key stakeholders, it is imperative for us to actively participate in the development of the next Strategic Plan for the period 2024 to 2028. Our collective input will be vital in shaping the direction and priorities of our institution, ensuring that it is aligned with the evolving needs and aspirations of citizens,” he said.


On his part, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Mauritus, Hon Phokeer, G.C.S.K, G.O.S.K. said the Plenary Assembly gives the Forum the opportunity to pursue regional cooperation.

“We are fully conscious that in the 21st century, inter-parliamentary democracy plays a cardinal role in international relations and that parliaments are also expected to contribute to the regional integration agenda,” he said.


Hon Phokeer said as an active participant in SADC activities and initiatives, Mauritius contributes to regional cooperation in various sectors, including trade, economic development, regional integration and climate issues.


He said climate-related extreme catastrophes have become a growing concern for many countries in recent years due to the ongoing effects of climate change.


“Unpredictable and extreme weather events are disrupting daily lives and causing significant damage to infrastructure and having a toll on the economy of affected countries,” Hon Phokeer noted.

He said the theme of the Plenary, which is cross-cutting with climate change and disaster preparedness, demonstrates clearly the trans-boundary nature of certain regional issues, which require Parliamentarians of different jurisdictions to deliberate and exchange views for an enhanced and informed parliamentary delivery at
national level.


“This is why, I believe, regional and international efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change are essential when addressing these catastrophes,” he said.


Hon Phokeer said Mauritius had had its own share of challenges related to natural disasters, particularly flash floods, landslides, and cyclones, which had left a trail of destruction.

“It is my firm conviction that the plenary will play a crucial role in promoting coordination within SADC and will come up with insightful suggestions for prompt actions to address complex challenges posed by natural disasters and climate change.”

SADC PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma said the 54th Plenary was the Forum’s last statutory one for this year.

“It concludes a productive year and marks the end of the Forum’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan which has been successfully implemented, with the full support and active engagement of all our stakeholders and member parliaments,” the SG said.


She also highlighted some of the achievements that had made Mauritius the envy of many.

She said Mauritius was admired widely for her thriving economy and ranks high on the democracy indices.


“In many countries, the right to health is not justiciable, however, it is pleasing to note that Mauritius provides free health-care to all her citizens. Similarly, the right to education is also facilitated by free transport for pupils, even on the Metro Express,” she added.

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Sekgoma said in the area of social protection, basic foodstuffs are subsidized by the government in Mauritius.

“This ensures access for all, including the vulnerable. In addition, senior citizens of Mauritius are provided special protection through monthly pensions. We fully associate with these measures, which we believe are well meaning and ensure that the citizens of Mauritius are well cushioned in their daily lives,” she said.


Sekgoma said lately, Mauritius had made headlines after claiming its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago which was retained by the then colonial powers before independence.

“We congratulate Mauritius for having the boldness and bravado to fight for its territorial integrity. We encourage Mauritius to continue the relevant progressive steps through all lawful means available until the sovereignty issue is permanently solved.

We celebrate the above because the SADC PF stands for democratization and socio-economic development, and human rights,” said to applause.

Ends/.

The President of the SADC PF and Speaker of the Seychelles National Assembly of Mauritius, Hon Roger Mancienne.

The Speaker of the National Assembly of Mauritius, Hon Phokeer, G.C.S.K, G.O.S.K.

SADC PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma. Photos: Moses Magadza

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