President Cyril Ramaphosa assumes AU chairship

Monday, February 10, 2020

“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,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

With these words, the President highlighted South Africa’s focus for the African Union (AU) chairship, 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, Ethiopia.

President Ramaphosa took over the chairship of the AU from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

South Africa was elected in February 2019 as the incoming chair of the AU. The Union, had at the time, agreed that the assumption of the rotational chairship shall take place on the occasion of 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, South Africa.

Convened under the theme, ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for African’s Development’, South Africa’s 2020 chairship of the AU coincides with its chairship of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSGCC).

President Ramaphosa further highlighted key priorities of the term as supporting integration, economic development, trade and investment in the continent; infrastructure development; advancing gender equality, strengthening cooperation between the African Union and United Nations; promoting peace and security, and advancing efforts to silence the guns on the African continent and elsewhere.

He reaffirmed the principle of finding 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 further called on the AU to continue to support the just struggles of oppressed people elsewhere in the world. He reiterated unwavering support for the people of Palestine in the 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 a 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 that ours can be a meaningful, effective and impactful Union Let us build the Africa we want,” said the President. –