In what is considered as an unprecedented event in the history of the South African Development Community (SADC), the bloc has appointed the first woman to lead its Parliamentary Forum.
During the 45th Plenary Assembly Session of its Parliamentary Forum in Mozambique, SADC members appointed Botswanan born Ms. Boemo Mmandu Sekgoma as its Secretary-General for the next five years.
The SADC-PF is an Inter-Parliamentary body that brings together 14 Member Parliaments and about 3000 Members of Parliament in the SADC Region. Its work revolves around developmental programmes that include conflict resolution, democratic governance, human rights, HIV and AIDS, gender, and regional integration.
The Plenary is the highest decision-making body of the SADC PF.
In her acceptance remarks, Sekgoma thanked the Plenary for the “trust and confidence” placed on her.
I am determined to continue serving the institutional organs of the Forum, under the wise guidance of the Executive Committee and the Office of the President of SADC PF. In so doing, I am committed to making the SADC Region a better place through parliamentary development,” she said.
Ms. Sekgoma becomes the first woman to lead the SADC PF. Prior to her recent appointment, she had served as Acting Secretary-General for nearly a year following the departure of the Secretary-General at the time, Dr. Esau Chiviya.
Key Things You Should Know About Ms. Sekgoma:
- She has an extensive background in public health and holds a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health from Lesley University, Boston in the United States of America; a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities; a Post Graduate Diploma in Community Counselling from the University of Botswana; and a Certificate in Promoting and Managing HIV and AIDS Prevention Programmes from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
- She was Director of Programmes and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and HIV and AIDS Policy Advisor at SADC PF. She oversaw implementation of programmes such as Gender and Women's Development, Food, Agriculture and natural resources, Democracy Governance and Human Rights, Trade, Finance and Investment, SRHR, HIV and AIDS with Member Parliaments while building partnerships.
- She set up SRHR and HIV programme mechanisms at regional and national levels and developed a vision that could engage parliamentarians from the SADC countries and attract donor support. It is noted that when she assumed leadership of the programme, it neither had a budget or staff but she managed to leave it better than she had found it.
- She mobilized financial, technical and other resources to develop significant Model legislation on HIV and AIDS and on Eradicating Child Marriages and Protecting Children Already in Marriage in the SADC Region.
There is no doubt as to her suitability for the position as she brings on board a wealth of experience on a wide range of issues. She has a full in-tray with her one of her top priorities being to convince the SADC Summit and Council of Ministers about the role that a SADC Regional Parliament can play towards development and integration within SADC.
There have been long-standing calls to transform the SADC PF into a fully-fledged SADC Regional parliament on the grounds that it will greatly benefit the region and its citizens. Notwithstanding that the issue was tabled at the 38th Summit of Heads of State and Government, it was only accepted in principle. No legitimate efforts have been made to actualise it. It now falls on Sekgoma's shoulders to try and help SADC PF achieve its goal.
Header Image & Research Credit: Moses Magadza