In a landmark development, SAPST and the Malawi National Assembly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 6 December aimed at enhancing cooperation in a mutually beneficial way. The MOU is consistent with SAPST’s mission to provide technical and financial support, whose effect would strengthen parliamentary processes and public participation in the legislative process for good governance and accountability.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, SAPST Executive Director Mr John Makamure said the partnership was a significant milestone for SAPST, which will solidify the organisation’s relationship with the Malawi Parliament.
“This MOU is simply a declaration to work together in a mutually beneficial relationship which upholds the need for mutual respect and consultation in all activities undertaken,” he said. “In particular, the parties agree that continued capacity building is critical and all activities undertaken under this MOU shall, in the first instance, be approved by the leadership of the Malawi Parliament”.
Some of the activities implemented by SAPST so far include training of Budget Committee members in program based budgeting, gender-based budgeting and the social accountability approach in public resource management oversight. Some members of the Women’s Caucus attended the same training.
The Health committee was supported to convene a workshop on human resource deployment in the health sector, while the education committee was assisted to convene a public hearing around the National Budget for the education sector. The organisation is also supporting a live radio program whereby MPs discuss with citizens key issues of public interest.
In his remarks the Speaker of Malawi Parliament, Hon. Richard Msowoya was upbeat about the prospective benefits arising from the MoU. “The good thing is that this MOU will start running this year through December 2022, and in between, this country will go to the polls in 2019 to elect Members of Parliament. I believe that this Programme will even be more beneficial to the new crop of Members of Parliament who will be ushered into office that time,” he said. Speaking at the same event, Malawi Clerk of Parliament Mrs Fiona Kalemba said the partnership will go a long way in enhancing the capacity of parliamentarians.
“This MOU will cover a lot of issues, especially in the areas of capacity development for both Parliamentary Committees and the Secretariat. This will go a long way in addressing the capacity challenges which our Members and staff face in discharging their duties,” she said. “It is my sincere wish and expectation that this MOU will open a new chapter, and will go a long way in addressing the issues that you are intending to support from now up to December 2022.
“This is a five-year programme and I am glad to note that this MOU has got some flexibility with regards to its implementation to the effect that we can agree to change it in order to support other programmes which we did not anticipate.”
SAPST celebrated its 10 years of Excellence in Parliamentary Strengthening last year. For the past 10 years, SAPST has been providing support on parliamentary budget oversight; legislative drafting and analysis; review of parliamentary rules and procedures; training CSOs and the public on parliamentary processes and procedures; technical and financial support for the conduct of public hearings and constituency meetings; exchange/exposure visits; and gender mainstreaming of policies and legislation.