Focus on value addition
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE, HIS EXCELLENCY R. G. MUGABE, CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION, ON THE OCCASION OF THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 52 No ANNIVERSARY OF THE AFRICAN UNION: 25 MAY 2015
Excellencies, Heads of State and Government of Africa, Distinguished citizens,
Women of Africa,
Comrades and friends of Africa,
As we celebrate the 52nd Anniversary of our organization, it is indeed a great opportunity for us, the African continent, to pay solemn homage and tribute to the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union. On 25 May 1963, these great statesmen took the historic stride ,and formed an institution that would be the vanguard of the African people’s aspirations for freedom, unity and solidarity.
This Day would not have been possible without the founding fathers’ sacrifices and those of the African heroes and heroines who fought to liberate the continent from the vestiges of colonialism. Today we enjoy freedom because of the ultimate sacrifices they made.
I wish to express my thanks and gratitude to all those who have in their various ways made arrangements to commemorate this Day. I know all of us hold commemorative events on the continent, and outside, to mark this very important Day on the African calendar. May you continue to do so in the coming years for posterity. I also wish to thank our guests and friends who always spare time to celebrate with us, this priced and momentous occasion for the people of Africa.
Excellencies and Distinguished citizens,
As we mark this important Day, it is necessary to reflect on this year’s African Union therne, aptly coined as “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. The choice of the theme is quite deliberate and revealing.
The African Union has taken a great leap in gender equality, specifically on women empowerment and development, out of the realization that, women, the world over, are the cornerstone of stability and social progress.
While women have made tremendous achievements, they sadly remain unsung heroes quite often. Haven’t women left indelible marks in the history of slavery, civil rights movements and our wars of liberation? They have made great contributions and continue to do so as social reformers and as catalysts for civilizations, as they did during the great historical epochs of ancient Egypt and other early civilizations on the African continent.
In recognition of the role of women as a driving force for change and development, most Member States have therefore moved to mainstream gender issues into their national laws and development programmes.
The instruments and frameworks that have been put in place for the empowerment and elevation of women cover various spheres of social interaction and development, ranging from governance, politics, and access to justice, health and ownership of the means of production.
Informing these transformative decisions is the realization that Women of Africa are a formidable asset in achieving sustainable economic development and eradication of poverty, hunger and disease. It is for this reason that African leaders chose this Theme in order to acknowledge the central role of women in implementing Agenda 2063 as well as to reinforce gains already made, and chart new frontiers for women, with the African Union playing an enabling role.
The efforts we have exerted are bearing fruit as we have recently seen women occupying important leadership positions.
We have had the first woman President with the ascension to the Presidency by Dr Ellen Sirleaf Jonhson in Liberia. For the first time, our continental body is being led by a woman, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
These are achievements which make us proud as Africans. The time to talk about the challenges is over; we now . know them as they have been extensively documented. What Africa needs now is action, action and more action.
Excellencies and fellow citizens, Africa is still under siege from neo-colonialism and the negative effects of globalisation.
We have a great task ahead indeed and a responsibility to fight against neo-colonialist tendencies bent on negating the socio-economic and political achievements we have made since the dismantling of colonialism. Fighting neocolonialism calls for bold determination and courage to guard against betraying the ideals of the African Union.
It is heartening to note that the African Union has made great strides both politically and economically in safeguarding the future of Africa.
Through the African Peace and Security architecture, the Union continues to work tirelessly, in collaboration with our partners, to foster peace and security across the continent.
The establishment of the African Standby Force, intended to guarantee peace and security on the continent, becomes more urgent and imperative.
It is my pleasure to inform that some of our regional standby forces have reached full operational capability.
In the economic sphere, the African Union remains focussed on attaining economic integration of the continent, as defined in the Abuja Treaty of 1991. The Treaty remains relevant, as it recognizes the efficacy of economic integration as a necessary strategy for sustainable socio-economic development in Africa.
Africa is richly endowed with vast mineral and agricultural resources which, if harnessed in accordance with its vision, will improve the livelihoods of the peoples of Africa, through the eradication of hunger, poverty and disease.
This would put an end to the tragic scenes that we have witnessed on the continent, as well as lately in the Mediterranean Sea, as our people seek to improve their lives.
Is it not a travesty that more than 50 years after our founding fathers laid down a solid foundation for economic integration and development, Africa still has limited capital and industrial base, and less developed domestic markets? Ironically, while we are confronted with these challenges, Western economies are flourishing, riding on the back of African resources.
As Africans, we must leverage these abundant and diverse resources for our benefit.
Time has come for us to industrialise our economies and move away from the continued exportation of our raw materials.
In spite of our challenges, hope is not lost. As Africans, we remain alive to the need to continue to push forward with our economic agenda, hence the historic decision of the Heads to craft Africa’s economic blue print, Agenda 2063, which was launched at the beginning of this year.
As a Union, we aspire for an Africa that is prosperous and is based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, an Africa that is integrated, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance, and, an Africa that subscribes to good governance, democracy, that respects human rights, promotes justice and respects the rule of law.
We aspire for a peaceful and secure Africa, an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics; an Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential of particularly its youth and women. Last, but not least, we aspire to have an Africa that is strong, that is united and that is an important global player and partner.
As we celebrate Africa Day, lets us acknowledge the challenges that face us.
We therefore have to devise collective strategies and measures to overcome conflict, insecurity, terrorism, mistrust between and among some of our people, human trafficking, diseases, youth unemployment, climate change, deforestation and environmental degradation, among others. We need to tackle these adversities and tackle them now and together, as their effects transcend national boundaries.
Excellencies, ladies and Gentlemen, Pursuant to our quest as Africans to remain fully in control of our destiny, the African leadership has come up with innovative policies to end donor dependency, as most of our programmes are funded by donors.
African leaders, therefore decided that within five years the Union should be able to fund 100°/o of its operational budget, 75°/o of programme budget and 25°/o for its peace keeping operations.
We should not forget our brothers and sisters in Western Sahara, who are still fighting for their dignity and self-determination.
Theirs is the last outpost of colonialism, which we have to dismantle, in fulfilment of the vision of our founding fathers, to fight for a fully independent and sovereign Africa.
During this year of empowerment of women, benchmarks must be set and measures taken to ensure that we lay an irreversible foundation towards the empowerment of women, and with it, the total empowerment of our nations, regions, and the continent, at large.
As we celebrate this historic Day, let us reaffirm the African Union principles of unity and solidarity, bequeathed to us by our founding fathers. As Africans we must continue to build on these principles that unite us for the benefit of the present and future generations.
Long live Africa
Long live the African Union
Long live Pan Africanism
May God Bless Africa and the Union of its People.
I thank you.