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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Speaker Mudenda meets Uruguay President

Speaker of Parliament Hon Advocate J.F.N Mudenda met the President of Uruguay, His Excellency, Mr Luis Lacalle Pou, courtesy of His Excellency, the Host President, on the sidelines of the just ended 2nd World Summit of the Committees of the Future 2023, which took place in Montevideo, Uruguay, from 25th to 27th September 2023.

The meeting was orchestrated by Ms. Beatriz Argimón, State Vice President of the Republic and President of the Senate of Uruguay.

Speaker Mudenda took the opportunity to congratulate Uruguay for putting in place impeccable modalities for an excellent Summit which sought to evaluate mechanisms for the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the constitutional mandate of Parliaments.

Further to this, Speaker Mudenda expressed commendations to President Pou for a well received official opening address which contextualised the task before delegates insofar as the conundrum of AI is concerned.

In his address to the Summit, President Pou underlined the centrality of AI and the metamorphosis of science and technology in various sectors of digital world.

The State President challenged Parliamentarians to take a positive approach towards AI usage as well as reinforcing that the AI evolution, like water, will always find a way of navigating around rocky and mountainous terrains of human existence.

On the same score, Speaker Mudenda also congratulated President Pou on the official opening of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Regional office in Montevideo, Uruguay, a concept which had been unanimously endorsed by the Governing Council of the IPU on the occasion of the 146th Assembly of the IPU and Related Meetings held in Manama, Bahrain.

The establishment of this strategic IPU Regional office for the South American Parliaments had been mooted 15 years ago.

Another regional office is set to open in Cairo, Egypt, to service Parliaments from the Africa and Arab Geo-Political Groups.

Equally, in his address at the Commissioning of the IPU Regional Office, the IPU President, Hon. Duarte Pacheco, congratulated Uruguay for its tenacity in leading the way in the long mooted idea of opening up the IPU Regional office.

He further indicated that he was now looking forward to the opening up of the Egyptian office.

These regional offices are pilot projects designed to deepen the IPU’s engagement with parliaments in the Latin American and Caribbean region and Africa as well as within the Arab region area by encouraging inter-parliamentary cooperation and helping the IPU to implement its global strategy through visible localised regional presence.

Relatedly, Speaker Mudenda attended a working lunch under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which ran under the theme ‘USES OF THE FUTURE IN PARLIAMENTS: BUILDING A TOOL FOR ACTION’.

The workshop was attended by several delegates from various countries in an effort to exchange the application of AI experiences for now and in the future uses relative to global Parliamentary processes.

In his intervention, Speaker Mudenda exhorted Parliaments to embrace the future as it is inevitable, using the analogy of former late US President John F Kennedy who envisioned that America should land an astronaut on the moon sooner rather than later, an inconceivable feat then in 1963.

Indeed that happened. Speaker Mudenda further opined that Parliaments should ensure that MPs and their staff are not left behind in the trailblazing AI revolution.

Within the scope of President Mnangagwa’s mantra of leaving no one and no place behind, Speaker Mudenda advised on the need to ensure that there is accelerated capacity building for MPs and staff through anticipatory research so as to upskill all the demographic groups in the AI ecosystem.

As Uruguay and Finland have taken the lead in designing paradigms for AI use within their Parliaments, Advocate Mudenda extolled Parliaments to take a cue from the two pacesetting countries.

Additionally, the Speaker underpinned the need for collaborative efforts with the Executive so that the two organs of the State can walk side by side while implementing AI applications in their e-governance without leaving the judiciary behind. In the same vein, the Speaker called for an appropriate legal framework which should guide the Committees of the future on how to manage the AI phenomenon as a tool for accelerated socio-economic development, which digital tool can be a double edged sword where AI creates negative impacts.

Concomitantly, Speaker Mudenda conveyed gratitude to UNDP for its continued support to the Parliament of Zimbabwe and accordingly appealed for more support for the hallowed institution of Parliament, especially within the purview of AI usage.

Furthermore, the Hon. Speaker participated in two workshops which provided an opportunity to further interrogate, reflect and deliberate on the impact of the phenomenal development of AI as it impacted the human being autonomy in the digital world.

The outcomes of these intense deliberations were captured in the Summit’s Declaration which was unanimously adopted after a few amendments proffered at the conclusion of the Summit.

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