“Let us build the Africa we want. Let the guns be silenced. Let our swords be beaten to ploughshares and our spears turned into pruning hooks. It is the actions we take from this day onwards that will determine our continent’s destiny,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
With these words, he highlighted South Africa’s focus for the African Union (AU) chairmanship, which he assumed on Sunday during the first day of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa.
President Ramaphosa took over the chairmanship of the AU from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.
South Africa was elected in February 2019 as incoming chair of the AU. The Union, at the time, agreed assumption of the rotational chairmanship will take place during the 33rd Ordinary Session.
South Africa first chaired the African Union 18 years ago in 2002, at the seminal session of the official launch of the Union in Durban.
Convened under the theme, ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for African’s Development’, South Africa’s 2020 chairmanship coincides with its chairmanship of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSGCC).
Ramaphosa highlighted key priorities of the term as supporting integration, economic development, trade and investment in the continent; infrastructure development; advancing gender equality, strengthening co-operation between the AU and UN; promoting peace and security and advancing efforts to silence the guns on the African continent and elsewhere.
He reaffirmed the principle of African solutions to African problems as the fundamental approach to addressing all conflicts on the continent, working within the frameworks of the AU and UN.
He called on the AU to continue support for the just struggles of oppressed people elsewhere in the world. He reiterated support for the people of Palestine in their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign state and the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.
“The African continent is on the ascent. It is indeed regeneration moral and eternal, as described by the South African revolutionary Pixley Isaka Seme.
“If we pursue our objectives with diligence and determination and mobilise our fellow African countries to support them, I am certain ours can be a meaningful, effective and impactful Union Let us build the Africa we want,” Ramaphosa said.