The Speaker of Parliament of Zimbabwe, Hon Advocate J.F.N Mudenda is in Bahrain, Manama, where he is attending the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly and related meetings.
The venue is the Exhibition World Bahrain (EWB). Speaker Mudenda is accompanied by Members of Parliament Hon T Muzenda, Hon V Tsvangirai, Hon T.M Mnangagwa, and Hon S Mukunyaidze.
Speaker Mudenda is a member of the IPU Executive Committee which is meeting on the 9th and 10 of March, as a precursor to the main Assembly. The Executive Committee deliberates on the legal issues around the main assembly and gives counsel where applicable. Hundreds of parliamentarians from 110 jurisdictions are expected to attend the deliberations on the overall theme of ‘Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance’. Liberia was recently readmitted to IPU, after having been expelled in 2017. Liberia was one of the founding Parliaments of IPU in 1899.
The IPU notes that online hate speech continues to sow division and is increasing against minorities, trust in government and the media is diminishing, religious freedoms are being curtailed, and religious discrimination, racism, and xenophobia are rising.
Against the foregoing, Parliaments, as guardians of the rule of law, citizenship, human rights, and justice, are part of the solution. During the Assembly, the IPU will offer opportunities for exchanges on good practices to promote inclusion and support peaceful coexistence as a prerequisite of resilient, cohesive, and democratic societies.
Some 110 parliaments, including delegations from countries in conflict situations, will attend. The IPU Task Force for the peaceful resolution of the war in Ukraine will meet high-level parliamentary delegations from both the Russian Federation and Ukraine to continue to explore options for a peaceful resolution of grievances, in strict observance of international law. The IPU Committee on Middle East Questions and the IPU Group of Facilitators in Cyprus will also meet to take stock of and propose measures to resolve the situation in those regions.
The Assembly will see the launch of a new IPU campaign, Parliaments for the Planet, designed to mobilize parliaments and parliamentarians to act on the climate emergency. The campaign will encourage parliaments and those who work in them to reduce their carbon footprints and become greener institutions. It will also support parliaments in their efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate through legislation, budgeting, and scrutiny of government action
The Assembly is also expected to adopt resolutions on Cyberattacks and cybercrimes: The new risks to global security and Parliamentary efforts in achieving negative carbon balances of forests. All the IPU’s parliamentary bodies will meet, including its four thematic standing committees, the Forum of Women Parliaments, the Forum of Young Parliamentarians, and the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
In his intervention remarks this morning, Speaker Mudenda highlighted the successes that Zimbabwe has made in bringing parity between men and women in Parliamentary Affairs. He indicated that under the guidance of H.E President Dr. E.D Mnangagwa, a constitutional amendment has guaranteed the extension of a provision in which women are guaranteed 60 seats under proportional representation.
In addition to this, the constitution now guarantees women 30 percent of seats in local government. Lastly, Speaker Mudenda amplified the 10 seats that the Youth are guaranteed in Parliament, one from each province, and this is constitutionally guaranteed. In his response, IPU Secretary General, Mr. Martin Chungong acknowledged the strides that Zimbabwe has made in ameliorating against women and youth lagging behind in the legislative agenda.
He went on to site the launch of the Youth Caucus in December 2022, as well as the launch of the Parliamentary handbook in February 2023, as key milestones attesting to the commitment Zimbabwe has exemplified in these key matters.
Chief Fortune Z. Charumbira, the President of the Pan-African Parliament is also set to grace the meeting on behalf of the continent’s lawmaking body which is an organ of the African Union.