New Professional Training Seminar for MPs in Southern Africa
SUNY/CID NEWS STORIES 2003
Parliament members in Southern African nations find themselves challenged by the multiple demands they face - from their constituents, their parties, and their nations. Recognizing the need to help guide legislators in these new democracies, the United Nations Development Programme contracted the Center to work with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum to design a professional development seminar for MPs of the 12-nation SADC region. In conjunction with the SADC Parliamentary Forum, the Center's Senior Associate John Johnson designed a comprehensive training seminar for MPs that covers parliamentary roles and responsibilities with regard to representation, lawmaking, budgeting, oversight, developing effective committees, political parties in parliament, and other areas.
Johnson and the SADC Parliamentary Forum delivered the first pilot seminar from August 16-18, 2003, to MPs of the Zambian Parliament in Lusaka, Zambia. More than 70 percent of the MPs, both backbenchers and cabinet ministers, attended the 3-day seminar in the Zambian Parliament auditorium. The handbook being developed in tandem with the seminar proved very useful to the Zambian MPs, some of which appreciated the descriptions by East African Legislative Assembly Member Hon. Dan Ogalo and Deputy Clerk Patrick Gichohi on how the Ugandan and Kenyan parliaments established their independence from the executive, and how Uganda's parliament increased its authority in the budget process. Zambia's parliamentary modernization group seeks to do both. Questionnaire results revealed that 100% of the MPs found the program useful to their work (83% Very Useful, 10% Somewhat - Very Useful, 7% Somewhat Useful).