Progress made in many spheres by AU Com­mis­sion

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMU

THE YEAR 2016 has been par­tic­u­larly fruit­ful for the AU Com­mis­sion as it con­tin­ues to work hard at the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the first 10-year plan of Africa’s Agenda 2063.

We are very pleased to see AU mem­ber states and re­gional eco­nomic com­mu­ni­ties in­ten­sify Agenda 2063 do­mes­ti­ca­tion. Cer­tainly, a lot more work still needs to be done to trans­late these as­pi­ra­tions to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of Africans on the con­ti­nent and in the di­as­pora.

Our as­pi­ra­tion of free move­ment of peo­ple around the con­ti­nent re­ceived a sig­nif­i­cant boost last year. We again com­mend Ghana, Namibia, Benin and Togo that took steps to­ward join­ing Rwanda, Mau­ri­tius and Seychelles on visa-freeen­try for all Africans. We hope that this year many more coun­tries will fol­low suit with visa-on-ar­rival as we con­sider is­su­ing the African Pass­port to cit­i­zens, within their na­tional poli­cies.

The 27th AU Sum­mit of Heads of States and Gov­ern­ment, hosted by Rwanda, was the best we have held.

We must main­tain the fo­cus on is­sues of our com­mon in­ter­est, while striv­ing to get bet­ter in host­ing sub­se­quent sum­mits and meet­ings. The Ki­gali Sum­mit was es­pe­cially suc­cess­ful with the launch of the African Pass­port, de­ci­sions on fi­nanc­ing the AU through a 0.2% im­port levy on el­i­gi­ble goods; Con­ti­nen­tal Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the ap­point­ment of judges of the African Court on Hu­man and Peo­ples’ Rights.

The Ki­gali Sum­mit also tasked Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame of Rwanda to lead the re­form of the AU.

Held un­der the theme “African Year of Hu­man Rights, with Par­tic­u­lar Fo­cus on the Rights of Women”, 2016 marked im­por­tant mile­stones in the con­ti­nen­tal and global women’s agenda for gen­der equal­ity and women em­pow­er­ment.

As we be­gin 2017, the theme is “Har­ness­ing the De­mo­graphic Div­i­dend through in­vest­ment in Youth”. The youth con­sti­tute more than 70 per­cent of the African pop­u­la­tion and re­main a crit­i­cal part of our most pre­cious re­sources.

Keep­ing true to the theme, the AU Com­mis­sion is heading a fo­cused End Child Mar­riage Cam­paign so as to en­sure that young girls are not di­verted from at­tend­ing school.

The Spe­cial En­voy on Women, Peace and Se­cu­rity also em­barked on a Stop Vi­o­lence against Women in South Su­dan Cam­paign in re­sponse to the vi­o­lent atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted against women and chil­dren in South Su­dan in the back­ground of con­flict.

We have re­peat­edly stated that Africa and the world can­not stand by and wit­ness the suf­fer­ing in­flicted on the chil­dren, women, men and young peo­ple of South Su­dan.

Enough is enough. Our peo­ple de­serve peace and de­vel­op­ment.

Sev­eral suc­cess­ful elec­tions were held in mem­ber states, and we con­grat­u­late the peo­ples and gov­ern­ments for their com­mit­ment at each elec­tion, en­sur­ing smooth tran­si­tions, and mov­ing a step fur­ther to­wards re­al­is­ing the spirit and let­ter of the African Char­ter on Elec­tions, Gov­er­nance and Democ­racy.

The AU re­mains com­mit­ted to work with our mem­ber states to en­sure that last­ing peace is re­stored un­der Agenda 2063 flag­ship project Si­lenc­ing the Guns by 2020.

This year, our heads of states and gov­ern­ment will elect a new chair­per­son of the AU Com­mis­sion at their 28th Sum­mit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For the first time, five can­di­dates par­tic­i­pated in a live tele­vised de­bate, termed MjadalaAfrika. It was or­gan­ised by the AU Lead­er­ship Academy on De­cem­ber 9.

It gave the African cit­i­zenry an op­por­tu­nity to hear the plans of their would-be chair­per­son. This de­bate was un­prece­dented and a mile­stone our his­tory. We hope we can have more de­bates of this na­ture, around crit­i­cal is­sues.

Mov­ing into the New Year, I wish every­one good health, peace and pros­per­ity.

‘The 27th Sum­mit was the best we’ve had’

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is the chair­per­son of the AU Com­mis­sion

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