African leaders commended for COVID-19 response

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as African Union (AU) chairperson, has commended the continent’s Heads of State and Government for their extraordinary leadership in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President said this while addressing Africa government leaders during a teleconference meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU and the Chairpersons of the AU Regional Economic Communities on 24 December 2020.

The purpose of the meeting was to consider the proposal of the Chairperson of the AU Commission to convene the 34th Ordinary Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the 38th Ordinary Session of the Executive and the 41st Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC). 

In a statement on Monday, the Presidency said the meeting was convened to explore the best way to convene these Ordinary Sessions in light of the unfolding and much intense COVID-19 second wave. 

AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat in the meeting presented the Commission’s concept note on the modalities of convening the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly, the 38th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council and the 41st Ordinary Session of the PRC.

“In the main, he recommended that the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly be convened physically in Addis Ababa, headquarters of the AU Commission on 6th February 2021 with a highly streamlined agenda and limited participation per delegation. The agenda could among others include a short opening ceremony; election of the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU; handing over between the outgoing and incoming Chairpersons of the Union; election of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Commission; information on the implementation of the Joint Strategy to fight against COVID-19,” said the Presidency.

The Presidency said should it not be possible to hold a physical 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chairperson of the Commission recommended a virtual session.

Among the agenda items, will be the conducting of an electronic/online elections for the senior leadership of the Commission.

Mahamat also recommended that both the 41st Ordinary Session of the PRC and the 38th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council be held virtually.

Upsurge in COVID-19 cases
Director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr John Nkengasong, noted that the Second Phase of the COVID-19 pandemic has been declared in some African countries - with South Africa in particular.

The presentation made by the CDC also highlighted an upsurge in the continent, with varying degrees of increasing infections and fatalities which at this stage, were notable on the upward trend.

Dr Nkengasong also mentioned that although the infections were showing an upward trend, however, in Addis Ababa specifically, there was a noticeable downward trend.

The director confirmed that the pandemic was accelerating and had picked up since July 2020, and mentioned that the impact of holiday festivities would not be known until the middle of January 2021.

“Assessment of the situation during mid-January will indicate trends and patterns and this will inform recommendations. Africa CDC will develop protocols/guidelines based on modelled risks,” read the statement.
The meeting of the Bureau and Chairs of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) thereafter discussed the recommendations by the Commission, with the majority supporting that the 34th Ordinary Assembly be held physically, whilst others called for caution in the light of the covid-19 situation which needed to be monitored on an ongoing basis. –

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