Monday, March 24, 2014

Matibini urges SADC to use its wealth for development
By Kabanda Chulu
Sat 07 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini has challenged SADC countries to utilise their natural resources to drive their socioeconomic development agenda.

And Southern Africa Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) secretary general Esau Chiviya says there is need to change the current practice where the executive arm of government dominates the agreements on the exploitation and utilisation of mineral resources.

Officially launching the Southern Africa Development Community Parliamentary Forum Barometer for natural resource governance and monitoring in the region, Dr Matibini yesterday said the scramble for access to natural resources had intensified due to increased demand from emerging economies.

"This is reflected in commodity prices, which are currently at historic highs. This has opened up an opportunity for commodity-producing countries such as those in Southern Africa to utilise their natural resources to drive their socioeconomic development agenda," he said.

He said natural resources belonged to all the citizens of a country.

"Citizens therefore have legitimate expectations that exploitations of their natural resources will result in improved livelihoods. Thus, citizens have a right not only to be involved (through their elected representatives) in how these resources are exploited but also to benefit from such exploitation," Dr Matibini said.

"However, these expectations, legitimate as they may be, must be balanced with the need to ensure sustainability in the utilisation of these resources."

He said the Barometer was an instrument that parliaments, civil society groups, labour organisations, media and communities could use to monitor how governments and companies are managing natural resources.

"The Barometer has the potential to increase transparency, accountability in the management of natural resources as well as respect for human rights and protection of the environment," said Dr Matibini.

And Chiviya said there was need to change the current practice where the Executive arm of government dominates the agreements on exploitation and utilisation of mineral resources.

"The constitutional role of Parliament in exercising oversight on the utilisation and exploitation of the mineral resources is not recognised. Yet the three core functions of Parliament that include representing constituent interests, legislating and oversight on the activities and performance of the Executive are essential if the exploitation of mineral resources by mining companies is to benefit SADC citizens," said Dr Chiviya.

Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) director Claude Kabemba said the Barometer was designed primarily for parliamentarians.

"Due to nature of politics in many African countries, parliamentarians have little knowledge of what is happening in the extractive industries sector. They contribute very little to the debate on these issues and are disconnected from the demands of their people. Therefore, the Barometer will help parliamentarians to be able to ask serious questions about natural resources," said Kabemba.

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