The Board of Trustees of the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST), at its inception in 2007, set its sights on a regional foothold for the organisation to ensure that its successes at home would cascade into the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. SAPST broke new ground when, in 2016, it secured a two-year grant from the Department of State, Bureau on Democracy, Human Rights and Labour (DRL) for a programme to be undertaken in Botswana, Lesotho and Malawi. The programme seeks to enhance the recognition, promotion, protection and fulfilment of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights in both the SADC region generally and in the target countries in particular. The programme aims to enhance the capacity of parliamentary committees and Members of Parliament (MPs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the public in terms of parliament-stakeholder engagement. It also builds the capacity of parliamentary committees in holding elected officials accountable to the people through Parliament. The overall goal of the programme is to strengthen parliamentary committees and promote Parliament- CSO engagement in the region.
SAPST is achieving this through a number of initiatives that include training seminars, live radio programmes and public hearings. The organisation is working with The Amnesty International (AI) Southern Africa, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and other CSOs in the targeted countries to implement the programme. It is anticipated that the initiative will positively impact on the legislative processes in the region, with the enactment of appropriate rights-sensitive legislation and policy programmes. The programme also aims to also enhance executive accountability and a responsive citizenry. The programme represents SAPST’s most serious entry into the region. It deepens previous initiatives in which the Trust only conducted periodic activities in regional countries. Now the organisation has an every-day presence, with offices in the countries under this programme thereby rolling out initiatives in the three countries.