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National workshop for enhancing the Capacity of CSOs and their networks in Malawi in SADC integration process
On the 17th August 2022, The SDG Center for Africa and the Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE) in Malawi hosted a National workshop for enhancing the Capacity of CSOs and their networks in Malawi in SADC integration process at UFULU GARDENS in Lilongwe. The proceedings from the event are found on SDGCA Youtube channel. The event was officiated by Hon. Joyce CHITSULO, Representative SADC Parliamentary Forum representing the Speaker of Parliament of Malawi, Right Honourable Catherine Gotani Hara.
In her remarks, Hon. Joyce CHITSULO reiterated that Parliament must work hand in hand with CSOs to educate our citizens of what entails regional integration so that when parliament is moved to legislate, citizens have not difficulties in embracing the regional integration drive. She emphasized that Parliament is ready to continue supporting regional integration process as Malawi is also actively involved with the SADC Parliamentary Forum. The CSO capacity enhancement for SADC integration is always welcome and will be an input in enhancing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through regional integration process.
Mrs. Faith Kazembe Mwalubunju, Deputy Director for Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the National Contact point for all SADC matters in Malawi. In her presentation, the MFA role is to act as a link between the SADC structures and all key stakeholders at the national level. They are the post office coordinating communication between the SADC organs and the key stakeholders at that national level. Article 9(1)(h) and Article 16A of the Declaration and Treaty of SADC, as amended, stipulates the creation of SADC National Committees (SNCs) at Member State level in order to effectively implement regional programmes at the national level. The Malawi SADC National Committee (SNC) where His Excellency the President, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, launched the SNC on 1st April, 2021 also involves non state actors (NSAs). She recognized CSOs have struggled to participate in formal SADC-led regionalism and this is partly due to the absence of the principle guidelines on how overall Non-State Actors can be accredited and actively participate in the implementation of the regional programmes. SADC is moving towards institutionalizing Mechanism for Engagement with Non-State Actors in the context of the SADC RISDP 2020-2030 and SADC Vision 2050.
Dr Ambrose Aheisibwe Rwaheru, the Regional Director of SDG Center for Africa - the Southern Africa Sub Regional Office introduced the project implemented by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) Lusaka and the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGCA) titled “Engagement for Results: Capacitating Regional Civil Society Organizations and their networks to effectively participate in the SADC regional integration process”. This project is part of the Integrated Institutional Capacity-Building (IICB) by the SADC Secretariat for CSO Stakeholders financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). The project will be implemented in the SADC region in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He emphasized that over the last four decades’ regional integration processes have gained momentum and became significant means for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is an increasing acknowledgement that SADC regional integration agenda requires more than the sum of national CSO actions: it calls for collective efforts at the national level to tackle global and regional issues.
As part of the project activities, CYECE in collaboration with CUTS International and SDGCA have mobilized and engaged civil society organizations (CSOs) engaged or interested in Regional Integration in SADC to bring their voices together and find ways to enhance their capacities. The recently concluded CSO mapping and advocacy appraisals aimed at enabling the implementing agencies and partners to fully understand the current advocacy landscape and identify the opportunities and challenges in implementation of SADC Regional Integration. To this end, the national training workshops was held for potential CSOs and coordinated along with the collaborative partners including Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE) in Malawi.
In presentation of CSO Mapping and Assessment Outcomes - Dr Enock Nyorekwa Twinoburyo, Senior Economist at SDG Center for Africa revealed low levels of awareness amongst CSOs about the SADC integration process and the existing coordination mechanism remains weak. Very few CSOs were active in the recently established SADC National Committees (SNCs) as well as SADC Regional Forum. Their engagement with legislature was reportedly low. The CSO coordination was relatively in silos towards regional integration and that political space for the CSO engagement was low. The resource constraints for operationisation of the key mechanisms at national and regional level remains a big challenge. On the upside, the political drive and commitment from MFA is a strong platform to leverage positive engagements.
Overall, the CSOs reiterated the need to enhanced capacity development including more information about these SADC strategies and need to know more about the existing coordination mechanisms. The project will continue to engage with all stakeholders. The CSOs recommended:
For the Media: Organize meetings/exchange visits for media practitioners, engage media at all levels, translation of materials to reflect local context, offer training media on how to disseminate information, develop strategic engagements mechanism for CSO-Media, Video documentaries of some success stories for CSOs engagements on SADC regional integration
For Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), promote better understanding SADC integration agenda, sharing lessons and lessons on regional integration for successful countries including review of functional SADC National Committees, develop a roadmap for advocacy under the pillar and stakeholder engagement, continue to engage CSO at local level, CSOs to organize social media campaign and establish CSO champions, promote public awareness and engagements including TV and Radio stations that are local based, foster cross country learning initiatives, sharing best practices and lessons for other targeted countries, align CSO M&Es with SADC undertakings, proper M&E mechanisms and frameworks, and plan for visibility, communication and sustainability
Next steps will entail capacity building and instituting a CSO network at national level drawn from various thematic areas that include but not limited: Trade Unions, Gender based and minority based organizations.
As the project ultimately targets the wider public, it will continue to engage with the media throughout and beyond the project lifetime. Some of the media reports can only be found on:
https://www.maravipost.com/malawi-csos-to-participate-in-sadc-region-integration-network-on-sdgs/. In this article, Dr Ambrose Aheisibwe is referred to as SADC regional director instead of right title the Regional Director of SDG center for Africa - the Southern Africa Sub Regional Office. The media has been contacted for the respective correction.
Also follow details using SDGCA social media pages eg Twitter @SDGCAfrica , on Facebook and CYECE @Cyece_malawi #SADCRI22_23
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