Mutsvangwa stands down

 Mutsvangwa stands down
Published: 11 December 2018
The vice president of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, left the leadership of the Forum last week after an eventful two years at the helm of the inter-parliamentary body that brings together 14 SADC national parliaments.

In a case of history repeating itself and in an emotional farewell speech at the end of the 44th plenary assembly session of SADC-PF that took place here, Mutsvangwa bade farewell to the regional body that she served in various capacities for many years.

"I cannot help but feel an oppressive sense of déjà vu . . . The memories of July 2012 remain etched on my mind as I came here for the 31st Plenary Assembly to bid goodbye and surrender my post as treasurer of the SADC Parliamentary Forum . . . How time flies and yet how history always seems to recur!" she said.

She said she had fond and abiding memories of Maputo, having gone there at the tender age of 15 to be part of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle.

"I, therefore, need neither introduction nor confirmation that I am part of the Mozambican heartbeat.

"I need no validation that I am a daughter of the Mozambican soil, tied inextricably to this great country by the blood of the gallant sons and daughters of Mozambique and Zimbabwe who gave life and limb for the liberation of our country."

She added: "I grew up here. I was trained here. I served here and now, by a divine twist of fate, it is only befitting that I come back here to bid farewell to my family and friends in the Forum, having served as the vice president of the SADC Parliamentary Forum from 2016 up to this day," she said.

Mutsvangwa is now Zimbabwe's Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and said part of her task in the new Government "involves repairing, recasting and recreating the image of Zimbabwe in the new dispensation, in line with His Excellency, President Mnangagwa's operative mantra, 'Zimbabwe is open for business,".

As vice president of the SADC-PF, Mutsvangwa was a key member of the Executive Committee, the management body of the Forum. The Executive Committee is responsible for the management of the Forum; giving direction to the Secretariat and ensuring that decisions of the Plenary Assembly are implemented. She said serving the regional body in leadership positions had made her a better person.

"Ever since I became a part of the Forum, I have not returned home the same person I was when I came. The Forum, with all its challenges, all its inherent political intrigue and all its successes, has honed my leadership qualities, my person, nay, my entire being . . . "

She encouraged the SADC-PF to be relentless in consolidating the firm foundation of the SADC region's shared peace, democratic practices and a common pursuit of economic endeavours.

"We owe it to our Southern African heroes, living and deceased, to work together, review our challenges together and celebrate our victories together as a regional assembly.

"The legacy that we should strive to leave behind is a legacy of a united Forum that set aside petty political and ideological differences for the common good of our people."

She said the SADC region could draw inspiration from luminaries in its history who include Tanzania's Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Zambia's Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Botswana's Seretse Goitsebeng Maphiri Khama and many others "who taught us, by the evidence of their lives, the content of their character and not the smoothness of their words, that we are better off fighting from one front as Frontline States than a loose conglomeration of disparate entities".

She said the challenge for the Forum was to be transformed into a SADC Regional Parliament, but said she was encouraged by progress made towards that goal. The outgoing Executive Committee came into being at a time when there were key impediments that needed to be dealt with or removed in respect to the transformation of SADC-PF.

The first related to doubt around the power split between the Council of Ministers of SADC and the proposed SADC Regional Parliament.

To overcome this, the Executive Committee worked hard to assure the executive wing of SADC that the proposed SADC Regional Parliament did not plan to take over the sovereignty and power of the Council of Ministers, but to serve Summit and Council.

Another challenge was to show how a SADC Regional Parliament would actually be a resource to summit and a resource to the Council of Ministers of SADC. Thanks to oneness of purpose among not just members of the Executive Committee, but also the generality of the membership of the SADC-PF, in August 2018, the issue of the transformation of SADC-PF into a Regional Parliament was heard at the 38th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government for the first time ever.

The issue of transforming SADC-PF into a Regional Parliament has now been accepted in principle. All that remains is for national parliaments and the SADC-PF Secretariat to work out the modalities of setting it up. Said Mutsvangwa: "I leave this Forum assured that our concerted efforts towards the transformation agenda in the past 21 years have not gone to waste.

"With change champions such as His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Hon Filipe Nyusi, on our side, who has inspired us to dump the word 'Forum', "I am confident that it is only a matter of when, not if, we will achieve full transformation."

She pledged to use her proximity to decision-making in Zimbabwe to further the interests of the Forum, including the transformation agenda which Zimbabwe already supports.

The minister is passionate about gender equality and equity in the SADC region. She commended the Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus for successfully lobbying for gender balance in the constitution of delegations to the Forum.
- the herald
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