Parliament, Thursday, 07 October 2021 - National Assembly Speaker Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula says the devastating effects of the Covid 19 pandemic on humanity should encourage Parliaments of the world to vigorously perform their oversight functions so that agreements adopted at different multilateral platforms are realised. These agreements should positively impact saving people’s lives, reconstructing and transforming economies to bring about a new global reality post-Covid 19.

Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula, made the call this afternoon, in her capacity as the South African leader of delegation to the seventh Summit of the Heads of Parliaments of G20 countries, called the G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit. Parliaments of G20 countries have a crucial role, as oversight authorities, in ensuring governments are held accountable for implementing decisions. The two-day meeting held in Rome, Italy, aims to strengthen the role of legislatures in global affairs.

Speaking at the summit, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula gave South Africa’s socio-economic perspective regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. She said South Africa, as elsewhere in the world, has also been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. She said March 2020’s hard lockdown in South Africa caused devastating effects both economically and socially.

She said the devastating circumstance of the pandemic claimed many lives, destroyed economies and left many jobless. Socially it has resulted in another pandemic of gender-based violence that has left women and children vulnerable. Compared to other G20 countries, Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said South Africa’s GDP impact lies in the middle range.

She commended the “sterling efforts” taken by South Africa and India at both the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and United Nations (UN) level in calling for a temporary waive in intellectual property rules relating to Covid-19 vaccines medicines, diagnostics and other technologies. She said that by waiving the parts of the Agreement on Trade Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), drug makers in developing countries could produce effective vaccines without worrying about being sued for patent infringements, ultimately speeding up the end of the pandemic.

Further, she said the fourth industrial revolution technology is “at the heart of the recovery strategies” adopted by South Africa to deal with the impact of the pandemic. She added that this is possible through the Government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery plan. It aims to build a new economy and unleash South Africa’s true potential, and the project is to create a sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy.

Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula today also met with the Speaker of Korea on the side lines of the Summit, with a view to strengthen relations between the two Parliaments. Political relations between the two countries dated back before the democratic dispensation in South Africa, and were formalised in 1994 when South Africa became a democratic government.

The two Speakers agreed on cooperation and encouraged South African and Korean business people to invest in the economies of both countries.

The two Speakers agreed to closely work together in monitoring the implementation of commitments and ensure policy convergence on critical interventions at the multilateral level. Today’s meeting also resolved to support the call for an increase of financial aid to vulnerable countries that are still recovering from, and were left vulnerable by, Covid 19 circumstances and other disasters such as climate change. They also stressed the need for equity in the redistribution of vaccines and discourage vaccine nationalism.

The summit ends tomorrow.

Nineteen countries make up the G20 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

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