Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe joins the rest of Africa today in celebrating the 54th Africa Day anniversary, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe hosting a ceremony to mark the occasion at a hotel in Harare this evening. Celebrations to mark the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), are being held under the theme: “Harnessing the Democratic Dividend by Investing in Youths”.
According to a draft programme of today’s event, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi will give the keynote address, while Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and DRC Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mwawapanga Mwanananga is also expected to address the gathering.
A cultural group from Namibia will provide entertainment.
According to a statement on the AU website, the celebrations offer an opportunity to reflect on youth development.
“Africa Day presents a unique opportunity to discuss and reflect while celebrating important milestones on youth development across the continent,” reads the statement.
“The central importance of the demographic dividend to Africa’s transformative development has been repeatedly acknowledged by African leaders at the highest level and in key ministerial platforms.
“Over the last 10 years, it has become evident that a demographic dividend lens offers a strategic basis for focusing and prioritising investments in people in general and the youth in particular, in order to achieve sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, and to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, which is driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
The AU urged Africans to take advantage of the celebrations to promote this year’s theme all over the continent and the Diaspora.
“If the theme of the year is to be successfully realised, it is imperative that platforms of national authorship and ownership be speedily established to enable a cross-section of ordinary Africans to connect with what is, at present, an abstract concept restricted to the ivory tower of the political elite, bureaucrats and academics,” said the union.
“Against this background, the Africa Day is a golden opportunity to promote the theme of the year all over Africa and the Diaspora.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Heads of State and Government of African countries on the occasion of the 54th anniversary of Africa Day.
“Please, accept my sincere congratulations on the occasion of Africa Day,” he said in a statement. “This important date commemorates the victory of the peoples of your continent in struggle for freedom and independence and symbolises their wish for unity for the sake of peace, stability and sustainable development.
“African states have made considerable progress in social and economic, scientific, technological and cultural development and are playing an increasingly prominent role in building a just and democratic multi-polar world order.”
President Putin said Russia appreciated the AU and other African regional associations’ efforts at local conflict resolution management.
“Russia highly appreciates constructive efforts of the African Union and other African regional associations aimed at local conflict resolution and crisis management, as well as at accelerating integration processes on the continent,” he said.
“I note with satisfaction the relations of friendship and partnership established between the Russian Federation and African states. I would like to confirm that we are ready to further build up multi-dimensional and mutually beneficial relations, as well as to continue participation in various assistance programmes and projects for Africa implemented under the auspices of the UN, G20 and BRICS.
“I wish you good health and success in state activity, and peace and well-being to the peoples of Africa.”