Malawi needs vibrant parley committees—UN
United Nations (UN) Resident Representative, Maria Jose Torres, has said Malawi needs strong parliamentary committees to act like mini-parliaments to look at issues thoroughly.
She said this in Lilongwe at the start of an orientation workshop on parliamentary committees for new members of Parliament.
“In this era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Parliament has been identified as a key partner if SDGs are to be achieved. You, honourable members, have an opportunity, and responsibility, to play a significant role in supporting and monitoring implementation of the SDGs.
“As committees, the UN urges you to play your rightful oversight role that would enhance progress towards Malawi’s achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Torres said.
She added that one way through which Parliament could help accelerate achievements of the SDGs agenda was by mainstreaming gender.
Torres said countries that deprive women of their rights to participate in social, political and economic activities could not register sustainable development gains.
“We are happy to note that the number of women in this Parliament has increased from the last Parliament. However, there is a long way to go to uplift the status of women in this country and ensure more women participate in decision-making processes. The same applies to the inclusion of young people, who constitute about two-thirds of Malawi’s population.
“Failure to capitalise on capacities of young people and integrate them in development processes will only slow Malawi’s progress. Therefore, we urge you to take keen interest in matters that affect marginalised groups, including persons with disability and refugees,” Torres said.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Gotani- Hara, said the aim was to equip lawmakers with knowledge and skills that would enable them to serve the people of Malawi.
Gotani-Hara said parliamentary committees play a number of roles, including reviewing policies and coming up with recommendations, providing oversight to government ministries, departments and agencies, scrutinising bills and institutional reports, confirming public appointees, conducting public hearings and enquiries, scrutinising public petitions and providing necessary guidance.
“As part of your business, you will, time and again, engage members of civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, the academia, think-tank institutions and members of the international community. Your interaction with these groups of people is mainly to conduct enquiries, solicit information, share ideas, knowledge and skills so as to enhance the knowledge and skills for your work.
“My advice to you is that, whenever participating in the activities of parliamentary committees, take the sessions seriously. There are benefits in learning,” she said.
Parliament recently established 19 parliamentary committees to service august House and the people of Malawi.