These are Zimbabwe’s Sustainable Development Goals: Parliament’s Responsibility

BY Kanako Mabuchi | August 10, 2016|Comments 0

“Ordinary Zimbabweans must own the Sustainable Development Goals. They are our SDGs!”, the Speaker of the National Assembly closed with these inspiring words a half-day dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recently organized by the UN in Zimbabwe.
The Speaker feels that Zimbabwe’s Parliamentarians have a critical role to play in ensuring that no one is left behind in the country’s progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. Through the Zimbabwe UN Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) 2016-2020, we at the UN in Zimbabwe are supporting the Parliamentarians to fulfil their roles and responsibilities as representatives of the People; as legislators; and, as overseers of the Government’s national and international commitments.

A total of 195 Parliamentarians participated in the dialogue which was organized, for a change, in a bit of a new way:

  1.  We moved away from “death by PowerPoint” methodology adopting a “talk show” format of pre-identified questions and answers.
  2.    We started with a one-minute global video on the SDGs, to ensure that the spirit of the unprecedented Agenda 2030 filled the room – ensuring also that all participants were familiar with the 17 SDGs.
  3.   The Government presented its SDG Position Paper which initially prioritizes 10 out of the 17 SDGs and firmly positions them within Zimbabwe’s national development plan.
  4.   Each head of agency represented their respective UN thematic result group under the UN strategic plan. This positioned the UN as a team rather than a collection of individual agencies.

However, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the real game-changing moment came during the open discussion.

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The ball is in our court

During an extensive question-and-answer session between the Parliamentarians and the UN, a number of Parliamentarians started advocating for UN’s support for their respective constituencies. This sparked the Speaker of the National Assembly to intervene with an inspirational speech to shake up the Parliamentarians, reminding them of the responsibility of the Parliament to make the Government accountable to the People.

Taking everyone by surprise, he emphasised that it is the Parliament’s responsibility as legislators to vote on proposed laws using the barometer of whether they are transformative for the lives of Zimbabweans. It is their responsibility to approve and allocate resources in a manner conducive to achieve the SDGs and; it is their responsibility to translate the SDGs for social change.

When the Speaker of the National Assembly declared “The ball is in our court,” there was a renewed sense of urgency for action to take the SDGs back to their constituents where the ownership lies. The Parliamentarians decided to establish a parliamentary committee on the SDGs to take the global goals implementation forward, led by the Speaker of the National Assembly himself.

By the end of the half-day dialogue, Parliamentarians embraced that they are key to reaching the Zimbabweans who are hardest to reach, to be the voice of the voiceless. From our side at the UN, with SDGs as a common playing field, we are here to support the Government through our common strategic plan.  Stay tuned for the continued volley! 

Authors


Kanako Mabuchi Kanako Mabuchi is the Head of Office at Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe. You can follow her on Twitter.

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