President Jacob Zuma returned to South Africa on Tuesday from “a successful ” visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he attended the 30th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU), the Presidency said.
On Sunday and Monday African heads of state attended the AU summit under the theme: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
The AU took a number of important decisions that demonstrated the readiness of member states to fully implement the commitments made in the continental organisation’s flagship programme, Agenda 2063.
This agenda relates to, among other things, the sustenance of peace and security; free movement of people, good and services; and improving political and democratic governance on the continent.
On Monday AU leaders launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), of which South Africa is a signatory, to provide for the full liberalisation of market access between African states.
The SAATM offers free exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalisation of frequencies, fares and capacities.
Commenting on the development Zuma said: “It is gratifying that the continent is moving ahead with the implementation of Agenda 2063, and it is vital that we are taking decisions that have a direct impact on the lives of the people of the continent. We are, in a very practical manner, removing barriers to trade, investment and tourism.”
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was elected as Chair of the AU for the year 2018, taking over from Guinea President Alpha Conde.
Zuma congratulated Kagame and assured him of South Africa’s readiness to work with him as he steers the AU.
South Africa was elected to serve as one of the Vice Chairs of the Bureau of the AU, representing the Southern African region. The other member states of the Bureau are Libya (North Africa), Republic of Congo (Central Africa) and the Republic of Guinea (West Africa).
On the state of peace and security on the continent, the Summit discussed the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Western Sahara.
Zuma said the summit noted that Africa remains largely peaceful and that the situations in the countries under discussion required more concerted efforts from the AU and its member states geared towards sustainable peace and stability within the framework of Agenda 2063, in particular the goal to “silence the guns by the year 2020”.
The summit emphasised the need for continuous engagement and cooperation between the AU and the United Nations (UN). In this regard, the summit re-appointed Zuma to continue his role of championing this initiative.
The SA president met the Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres on the margins of the Summit. The two leaders re-committed themselves to fostering closer cooperation between the AU and the UN.
Zuma said he was pleased to see the AU embracing the decision “to mark” the centenary of South Africa’s first post-apartheid President, Tata Nelson Mandela.
“We were pleased to see the warmth with which our fellow Africans received the message about commemorating Madiba’s centenary. This once again shows that Africa is ready to preserve Madiba’s legacy of pan-African solidarity as well as peace and reconciliation,” said Zuma.
– African News Agency (ANA)