National Assembly and FPAC attend regional workshop for African public accounts committees in Zambia |08 November 2023
A delegation comprising members and parliamentary staff of the National Assembly’s Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) was in Lusaka, Zambia, from October 30 to November 1, 2023 to attend a regional workshop for African Public Accounts Committees (PACs).
Honourables Sandy Arissol and Richard Labrosse and deputy clerk Alexandria Faure attended the workshop, which saw the participation of other parliaments across the Commonwealth namely, the national assemblies of Gambia, Malawi, and Namibia, parliaments of Ghana, Sierra Leone and United Kingdom and the legislative council of St Helena.
The workshop was organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK) in collaboration with the Zambian National Assembly. CPA UK’s core work is to build relationships with parliaments across the Commonwealth focusing on priority themes such as women in parliament, tackling modern slavery, security, PACs, and international trade.
The three-day workshop was officially opened on October 30, by the first deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, Malungo A. Chisangano MP, the clerk of the assembly Roy Ngulube and the chairperson of the UK PAC, Dame Meg Hillier.
The delegates participated in beneficial and highly specialised trainings and panel discussions on benchmarking their respective committees and functions, conducting effective enquiries, managing parliamentary resources, effective questioning skills, and techniques for the PACs, handling sensitive information, measuring impact of the PACs, and engaging the media and youth, including producing effective reports.
The Seychelles delegation was actively involved in the workshops with Hon. Arissol and Hon. Labrosse participating as rapporteurs to specific round table discussions.
Hon. Labrosse shared that the workshop “was very interesting whereby as a new member of the FPAC, I learnt about the practices of other countries and found that through the benchmarking, the FPAC of Seychelles is following transparent and best parliamentary practices”.
Hon. Arissol expressed that “it was a fruitful workshop whereby we were able to put forward strong propositions on how we can better serve our FPAC and empower our parliamentary staff. It is also good to note that through the benchmarking, we are comforted to know that our committee is on the right track and doing immense work for our small island”.
As part of the official programme, the deputy clerk, Ms Faure, facilitated a round table discussion alongside the senior clerk at the table office of the UK, Ben Rayner, with the respective committee clerks and parliamentary officials on ‘Using Parliamentary Resources Effectively to Prepare and Manage Inquiries’. This involved proactive exchanges of procedural practices on managing effective enquiries and witnesses that appear before the respective committees during hearings.
Ms Faure also served as a panellist in another session focusing on ‘Effective Questioning Skills and Techniques for PACs’ alongside the chairperson of the PAC of Ghana, Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, the chairperson of the PAC of Zambia, Hon. Warren Mwambazi, and the chairperson of the United Kingdom PAC Dame Meg Hillier.
Ms Faure expressed that “the sessions with the parliamentary officials and committee clerks was a great learning experience and provided deep insights into the diverse procedural practices in the different legislatures. It is deeply important for parliamentary officials to connect and share best practices, which is key to ensuring the continuous development of parliamentary services to committees, the role of oversight and the parliamentary institutions as a whole”.
The delegates also had open discussions on the functions of their PACs, the challenges, and successes of their work. Many remarked and highlighted the importance of the independence of the PACs to ensure there is constant measurement of performance, oversight on the expenditure of public funds, engagement with the media and youth and following up on recommendations to keep the government accountable.
The delegates called for more connectivity with small legislatures in the Commonwealth and due to budgetary constraints, for more trainings to be made available online.
The delegates also had the unique opportunity to attend the valedictory service of the former Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, the Rt. Hon. Amusaa Katunda Mwanamwambwa, who had passed away several days earlier.
The service took place in the chamber of the parliament on Tuesday, October 31, 2023.