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Secretary to Parliament, Mr Xolile George, says that parliaments have an indispensable role to play in fighting intolerance, promoting peaceful co-existence and inclusive societies. They can do this by making use of their constitutional mandates and power of law-making, oversight and public participation.
Mr George expressed this view during his presentation to the Association of Secretaries-General of Parliaments (ASGP) on the role of parliaments in fighting intolerance, promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies on the sidelines of the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly held in Manama, Bahrain.
While highlighting certain instances of intolerance that manifest as a result of lack of access to resources, gender-based stereotypes and discrimination based on race or class, he shared how the South African Constitution has sought to address the matter through the Bill of Rights and Constitutional institutions supporting democracy such as the Commission for Promotion and Protection of Rights, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality. Importantly, these institutions are accountable to the National Assembly. These are strong statements of intention to protect the rights of citizens to access basic services, education, dignity and all forms of services that promote equality.
He also emphasised the important role that is currently played by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula by being part of the task team that has been appointed by the IPU to mediate on the Ukraine – Russia crisis. Participating in efforts to resolve conflicts across the globe is a step towards the success of the fight against intolerance and inequality.
Mr George said parliamentary support services should ensure that the mechanisms the legislature uses in the form of meetings, hearings, oversight visits, law-making and public participation, allow for public representatives to engage in a manner that will promote inclusivity, equality, employment and peace. Building a responsive and capable parliamentary administration is one of the ways of fighting these challenges that are plaguing societies globally.
The ASGP is a forum of the IPU accounting officers that creates a platform for the exchange of ideas, best practices, and collective wisdom on the handling of challenges faced by parliaments. The secretaries also use the opportunity to interact bilaterally and multilaterally with other administrative heads of parliaments, to identify opportunities for benchmarks and gain better lessons and insights into how administrations conduct their business as they seek to perfect the quality of support services provided to Members of Parliament.
Mr George also held a bilateral meeting with the Secretary to the Parliament of Turkey around some of the model systems they are implementing to improve quality management systems and address security issues when servicing Members of Parliament.
The ASGP meeting was Mr George's first meeting since his appointment last year. He said: "This is one of the most valuable platforms in terms of sharing lessons and canvassing collective views across the region, in each continent and across continents."
Mr George has hailed the IPU as one of the premier events for parliaments across the world to gather and share best practices but also to reflect on major political issues that affect countries. It is also a great platform for legislatures to discuss topical issues that every country will be concerned about and how parliaments around the globe can use their combined effort to seek ways and means to resolve problems.
Issued by Parliament