Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, The Right Honourable Justice Dr. Patrick Matibini, SC, says Members of Parliament are in vantage position to contribute to the shaping, advancement and implementation of sustainable development agenda. This is contained in a press release by Zambia’s First Secretary for Press and Public Relations
at the United Nations, Mr Chibabula Silwamba.
Addressing the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament convened by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in cooperation with the United Nations at the UN Headquarters, Dr. Matibini said Members of Parliament could crucially contribute to achieving sustainable development by enacting relevant legislation and closely monitoring the implementation of the various programmes and initiatives.
He urged parliamentarians, as direct representatives of the people, to make their voices heard and define the fiscal and budgetary trajectory of their nations.
“However, it is a matter of regret that currently, Parliaments tend to be left behind in critical developmental conversations and processes. Yet Parliaments are the central and cardinal institutions of democracy which embody the will and aspirations of the people,” Speaker Matibini said. Speaker Matibini told the global meeting of leaders of Parliaments, which takes place once every five years, that Zambia had made significant parliamentary reforms.
He said that since 2002, an ambitious process of enhancing the core functions of Parliament has been implemented through the parliamentary reform programme.
“These parliamentary reforms have in particular enhanced parliamentary oversight in the following ways: alignment of parliamentary committees to Government Ministries to enhance policy development and implementation. This ensures that all Government ministries are effectively covered and scrutinised; the opening of doors of the committees to the public to enable the public participate in committee proceedings through making submissions on various Government programmes and initiatives,” the head of the Legislature said. “Field visits undertaken by parliamentary committees to oversee Government activities and projects; and through various in-house mechanisms, these include questions for oral and written answer to Ministers and the Vice President’s Question Time.”
Speaker Matibini said various stakeholders and interested groups were provided a platform to submit and contribute to the legislative process.
“When considering the budget estimates, we have provided for an Expanded Committee of Estimates which includes chairpersons of portfolio committees to scrutinise the proposed estimates on behalf of Parliament. This dispensation allows for diverse perspectives during the discussion of the estimates at committee level,” he said. “Through engagement with civil society organizations, the business community and other stakeholders, Parliament promotes peace and the practice of democracy, thereby fostering sustainable development.”
The Speaker said Zambia had established constituency offices in all the 150 constituencies, and that these offices were strategically deployed as centres of democracy and development.
“No development agenda can be championed, and no peace effort can be sustained without the people’s representatives. Therefore, no effort should be spared in the integration of the people’s representatives in the formulation and implementation of the international development agenda,” said Speaker Matibini.
The Conference, attended by at least over 180 parliamentary Speakers, several deputy Speakers and other parliamentary leaders, closed today after three days of deliberations focused on Sustainable Development.
Heads of State and Government will launch the “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” outcome document of the UN Summit for the adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda to be held from 25 to 27 September, 2015 during the Seventieth (70th) Session of the General Assembly.