“Africa should be increasingly self-reliant and decrease its dependency” -
Chairperson of the AU Commission:
Addis Ababa, 12 June, 2013 – The Golden Jubilee of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the African Union (AU) was celebrated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 25th. On the same day and in the spirit of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance, the celebrations caught the imagination of many people within and outside the continent. The celebrations were held at the same time as the 21st Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union. In order to provide feedback on the events held at the headquarters of the AU and in different parts of Addis Ababa as well as update media on the main decisions reached by the summit of the AU, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission presided over a press conference on Wednesday 12 June 2013.
Ahead of the celebrations on 25 May 2013, events such as the Youth Inter-Generational Dialogue, the Gender Pre-Summit, and the meeting of the business community reflected on the theme Pan Africanism and African Renaissance and proposed ways and means for a better future in Africa within the framework of Agenda 2063. The Commission will be receiving inputs informing Agenda 2063 until November 2013. The Agenda will be tabled for adoption and subsequent implementation in June 2014.
As regards youth issues, Dr Zuma informed that young Africans requested the creation of a new and dedicated portfolio within the AU Commission. As this process is likely to be lengthy given the amendment of the Constitutive Act that it requires, a Coordination Unit dedicated to the Youth will be created in the interim, in the Office of the Chairperson of the Commission. In addition, a Youth Parliament to debate issues of the continent will be held once a year.
As part of the year- long activities, the Executive Council is expected to meet and make inputs on the 2063 Agenda.
In the meantime, the Chairperson announced that in July 2013 Heads of state will reconvene in Abuja to review and take stock of the achievements made since the Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis held in May 2006 in Abuja. In early August, a meeting themed “Call for action for maternal and child mortality” will discuss further practical steps to reduce mortality and come up with clear road map. This meeting is meant to be an inclusive dialogue and its road map will serve as a guideline for any action to be taken in the future. “Trends are in the right direction but mortality is not falling fast enough”, the Chairperson cautioned.
Looking at the 21st Summit, Dr Dlamini Zuma welcomed far-reaching decisions for Africa’s development taken by the Heads of State. Among them is the adoption of the African Immediate Crisis Response Capacity (AICRC), an interim tool aimed at providing rapid solutions when crises erupt on the continent. The more permanent African Standby force (ASF) is expected to be operational by 2015.
Heads of State also went further regarding the alternative sources of funding for the Union. They requested Ministers of Finance to re-examine the conclusions of the Panel appointed to look into the issue before they are submitted to them again at the next Summit in January 2014. Heads of State also formed a panel led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, aimed at addressing the post 2015 development agenda so as to ensure that Africa’s preoccupations are taken into account. “Africa should be increasingly self-reliant and decrease its dependency”. To achieve that objective, the Commission is working with the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on innovative ways to finance projects.
On her agenda, Chairperson Dlamini Zuma briefed the media on her participation at the fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V). With Japan, Africa will concentrate on skills development, agriculture and investment in various areas of manufacturing.
Regarding her visit to Hungary for the Africa-Budapest Forum, Dr Dlamini Zuma said it aimed to “open new frontiers and expand our horizons” as Africa. She also visited Russia in the same spirit. In the next few months, the Chairperson is expected to take part in the United Nations General Assembly, and the 20th anniversary of Seychelles before proceeding to the G8 Summit.
Responding to questions posed by journalists on the tension arising between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Nile river, Dr Dlamini Zuma explained “that the view of the Commission is that there should be discussions with a win-win situation. We think it is possible to come to an agreement that will not harm any part because both countries need water and need to use the Nile. It is important to have discussions that are open in a new context in the spirit of Pan Africanism and African renaissance…. ”.
On relations between Kenya and the International Criminal Court, Dr Dlamini Zuma reiterated the decisions taken by the 21st AU Summit. “After the reform of the judiciary, Kenyans feel that the case can be taken to a Kenyan court.
On Madagascar, the Chairperson stated that “elections should be according to the rules and Constitution. As of now, the electoral code has not followed the law of the country. We hope that SADC and other stakeholders will put the same pressure for the laws to be followed right at the beginning of the electoral process for credible, free and fair elections, So that Madagascar can reintegrate into the AU after so many years”.
In conclusion, Dr Dlamini Zuma reminded the audience that all these tasks cannot be achieved without a stronger and more efficient Commission. In January 2013 Heads of States agreed to undertake an audit of the AU and identify the strengths and the weaknesses. “In house, at the Commission, we are already working on what should be done to have a stronger Commission”.