PARLIAMENTS from over 20 African countries are meeting in Victoria Falls to deliberate on measures that can be taken to fight terrorism in the continent.
The African continent has noted that the scourge of terrorism has led to the destruction of lives and infrastructure as well as the reduction in domestic investment and a fall in economic activities.
The United Nations estimates that violent extremism is costing African countries approximately US$97 billion each year.
The availability of illegal small arms, light weapons and organised crime across borders provide a fertile environment for terrorists’ activities.
This disturbs Africa’s quest for a conflict-free continent.
Zimbabwe won the bid to host this 78th session of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union (APU) following a visit by APU secretary general Idi Gado Boubacar in May.
Parliament of Zimbabwe signed a MoU with APU to fight terrorism.
President of the Zimbabwe Senate Mabel Chinomona, who is also vice president of the executive committee representing Southern Africa said the meeting is taking place during a time when an increasing number of African countries are facing the threat of terrorism.
“While it is pleasing that Africa has made gains towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the impact of extremism has potential to reverse this progress,” said Chinomona.
She said there is a need for urgency in ending extremism.
“It is therefore urgent that member states enforce APU resolutions to address the risks posed by terrorism. Terrorism and violence find a breeding ground in negative circumstances such as human rights violations and armed conflict,” said Chinomona.
She said the risk of terrorism comes from multi-layered social, economic and political issues such as unresolved internal conflicts, poverty and inequalities, exclusion, and lack of the rule of law.
Parliaments should ensure that countries tackle poverty and reduce inequalities so as to discourage youths from joining terrorist activities.
“I am convinced that this venue is ideal for this meeting which represents the full diversity of the continent of Africa. We have to create an environment in which terrorism does not enjoy sympathy and support.
“This we can achieve through addressing terrorism drivers and incentives for youth recruitment.
The APU platform is conducive for us to share the African heritage of open, equitable, and inclusive societies in which extremism cannot thrive,” she said.
The meeting ends on Friday.