Statement By The Minister Of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi’s On The Occasion Of The 54Th Anniversary Of The African Union: 19 May 2017
As you are aware, the 25th of May 2017 is a historic and important day for Zimbabwe and Africa at large. This is a day we celebrate the unity and solidarity of our founding fathers who gave it all for the freedom and independence of Africa.
Zimbabwe stands today among independent African States because of the solidarity and vision of our founding fathers.
It is our tradition that on this day, which is a public holiday in Zimbabwe, my Ministry, in conjunction with the African Group of Ambassadors, commemorate this event.
On Thursday, 25 May 2017, there will be special celebrations at the Rainbow Towers Hotel where Government officials, diplomats, the private sector and other key stakeholders will be invited to attend.
In January 2017, the African Union Assembly adopted the theme “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in Youths”.
As you are aware, Agenda 2063 “The Africa we want” places importance in investing in our youths who area its custodians and beneficiaries.
It is important that Africa invest in its youth through appropriate education, skills development, entrepreneurship and empowerment.
The theme will be discussed in finer details at the forth coming 29th Ordinary Session of the African Union to be held in July 2017 in order to come up with specific measures to harness the youth demographic dividend.
It is necessary that as we celebrate this day our youth are encouraged to rekindle the spirit of unity, togetherness and solidarity as demonstrated by our founding fathers.
You may recall that, His Excellency, R.G Mugabe was present in Addis Ababa in 1963 when the OAU was formed and continue to inspire in us the Pan-Africanist values and principles.
It is, therefore, important that our youths emulate the example set by these founding fathers to ensure a bright and prosperous future for our continent.
Africa’s new vision for political and economic emancipation, Agenda 2063 and its First Ten Year Implementation Plan is gaining traction every day across our continent.
This Agenda was adopted in 2015 under the able Chairmanship of President R.G Mugabe.
It is hinged on the need to foster continental industrialisation through value addition and beneficiation of our abundant resources. This blueprint will be implemented for the next 50 years.
As you know, Agenda 2063 has these flagship projects: the Integrated High-speedy Network; an African Virtual and e-University; the African Passport; establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA); a single African Aviation Market.
Reform of the African Union
The successful and timeous implementation of the African Union Blueprint Agenda 2063 will only be realised through institutional reforms of our continental body.
These reforms started under the chairmanship of President R.G Mugabe in Johannesburg, South Africa and are being carried forward by President Kagame of Rwanda.
The reforms are meant to make the organisation efficient and effective to respond to contemporary challenges.
Under these reforms, the issue of exploring alternative means of funding the African Union are high on the agenda.
You may appreciate that currently the African Union’s budget is being funded to the tune of 70 percent by cooperating partners, a situation that has serious implications on agenda setting for the organisation.
It is in this context that the Heads of State and Government agreed in 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to ensure that in the next five years, the African Union would be able to finance 100 percent of its operational budget, 75 percent of its programme budget and 25 percent of its peacekeeping budget.
In his 2015 address to the Johannesburg Summit, His Excellency, President R.G Mugabe stated that “Unless and until we can fund our own programmes, the African Union will not be truly our own.”
Consensus was built among African leaders on the immediate need to take measures to ensure that the African Union’s budget is self-financed.
In this context, His Excellency pledged 300 heads of cattle towards the African Union Foundation as his modest contribution towards self-financing.
Peace and Security
Agenda 2063 clearly spells out the need to silence the guns by the year 2020 as a fundamental base for development on the continent. Peace and security are prerequisites for successful implementation of Agenda2063.
It is imperative to mobilise adequate resources to strengthen Africa’s Peace and Security Architecture.
The establishment of Africa’s Peace Fund is a step in the right direction.
The continued subjugation of the people of Western Sahara is a fundamental contradiction to the principles and values of the African Union’s Constitutive Act.
The people of Western Sahara remain colonised.
As we celebrate this 54th Anniversary of our Union, let us redouble our efforts to ensure that the people of Saharahwi Arab Democratic Republic exercise their right to self-determination.
We regret we are unable to carry your favourite column, Nathaniel Manheru today. — Editor.