S/African parliament honours AU founding fathers

The South African parliament on Tuesday paid homage to the founding fathers of the African Union for sacrificing their lives…

The South African parliament on Tuesday paid homage to the founding fathers of the African Union for sacrificing their lives and livelihoods to attain liberation and freedom across the continent.Parliament’s presiding officers – Speaker Thandi Modise of the National Assembly and Chairperson Amos Masondo of the National Council of Provinces – paid the homage on Africa Day, an occasion that celebrates the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963, a forerunner of the current African Union that was formed in 2002.

“As we celebrate this day, we are acutely conscious of the ideals our forebears struggled for — which include the battle against poverty, inequality, wars and conflicts, and limited share of resources,” the officers said in a statement issued in Cape Town.

Parliament has adopted the theme, “The Year of Arts, Culture and Heritage – Building a Better Africa and a Better World in the Midst of Covid-19,” which articulates the current challenges facing the continent, the officers said.

The theme also provides a good framework for interventions and mobilisation of international support, they added.

The officers said these efforts include strengthening the execution of the newly-launched African Continental Free Trade Area, mobilising world nations to remove patent barriers to the production of sufficient Covid-19 vaccines to fight the pandemic and financing African economies to enable their remodelling and recalibration.   

“We noted with appreciation the resolutions of the recent summit of the heads of state that met earlier this month in France to finance African economies, using global financial firepower to replenish depleted coffers of the African economies and ramp up a slow vaccine rollout in the continent,” the officers said.

They added: “We strongly believe in human solidarity across the world, driven by an understanding that we can only be safe from the pandemic when all of us are safe, and when Africa and other developing nations are enabled to access and produce requisite quantities of vaccines to protect their people.”

The parliamentarians also affirmed their confidence that “other major priorities of the continent, as part of our striving to reach the Agenda 2063’s development goals, will receive critical attention” as the continent fights to better the lot of its people.

The OAU’s main objectives were, among others, to rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonisation and apartheid, to promote unity and solidarity among African states and to promote international cooperation.

The AU’s formation, therefore, was designed to create a new continental organisation to refocus attention from the fight for decolonisation and ridding the continent of apartheid, towards increased cooperation and integration to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.

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