Southern African Development Community(SADC) Parliamentary Forum led by Malawian lawmaker, Joseph Njobvuyalema – the deputy president of Sadc PF – he was acting president during during the 39th Plenary Assembly Session, passed model law forcing countries not to marry off their daughters at the tender age.
Njobvuyalema, who presided over proceedings in passing the law At the Royal Swazi Hotel , told reporters in Lilongwe when he was jetting in the country from the 39 SADC- PF Plenary conference which took place in Swaziland ahead of a full SADC Indaba which will see Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe handing over SADC Chairmanship to King Mswati.
“Honourable members,” Njobvuyalema said during the proceedings, “I now pose the main question: those who think the Sadc Model Law on eradicating child marriages and protecting those already in marriage should be adopted, say ‘Aye’.”
In response to Njobvuyalema’s question, SADC-PF members gave a loud chorus of ‘Aye!’
Out of formality, he says: “Those of the contrary opinion, say ‘Noe’.”
But there was so much silence that one could hear a snail clearing its throat a kilometre away.
“The ‘Ayes’ have it,” declared Njobvuyalema as he banged his fist on the table, closing the matter.
The Plenary Assembly Session is the highest decision-making body of Sadc PF – the deliberative body that brings together 14 national parliaments of Southern Africa.
Njobvuyalema said SADC -PF discussed at length the problems of early marriages which happens due to several factors such as poverty.
“As SADC-PF, we noted that poverty pushes young girls into early marriages so we saw it necessary to do something by among others putting in universal law to tackle the problem but for the countries which already has a good law on the matter, we will just use the existing laws,” said Njobvuyalema.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has since congratulated Sadc PF MPs for making a “landmark decision which has the power to transform the lives of millions of girls”.
Among other business, SADC PF discussed the need to strengthen SADC-PF to be fully a legislative body.
During the conference, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Member of Parliament for Salima North West who is also MCP spokesperson, Dr Jessie Kabwila, was elected Chairperson of SADC Parliamentary Forum Women Caucus.
She was elected unanimously following the passing of divorce and family relations bill.
Kabwila said she was happy with the confidence which people have in her.
Her position is crucial in uplifting affairs in the SADC Region.
The sub-committees of the Executive Committee met on Monday, including the Parliamentary Business Sub-Committee which considered the parliamentary business for the 39th Plenary Assembly.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :