President welcomes AU Summit focus on continent's progress

Monday, February 20, 2023

President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed the just-concluded African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government as a platform that demonstrated the progressive impact of cooperation across the continent in meeting challenges and unlocking opportunities.

The 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over the weekend.

The President led South Africa’s participation in the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Summit of Heads of State and Government, which was framed by the continent’s theme for 2023: “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation”.

He was accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Naledi Pandor; Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele; Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana; Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla; Trade and Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla.

“This has been a very productive Assembly, which paves the way for peace, economic growth and trade and for the African Peer Review Mechanism to start working more effectively so that countries on the continent can be able to review each other’s processes, democratic and otherwise, (and which) paves the way for the empowerment of women and young people,” the President said in a statement.

While the continent faced challenges in the economy and in areas such as infrastructure, it is working collectively to deal with these issues – a clear demonstration of which could be seen in the collective response to COVID-19.

President Ramaphosa and South Africa’s participation in the Assembly straddled a number of areas that included his roles as AU Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) and COVID-19 Champion.

The President also reported on progress in the operations of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

On South Africa’s role as Chair of the AU PSC, President Ramaphosa outlined progress with regards to the project of silencing the guns throughout the continent.  

“In this regard, the President reported on a breakthrough in the conflict between the Federal Republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray Liberation Front where a process facilitated in South Africa secured a ceasefire agreement and a commitment by the parties to pursue peace,” the statement read.

The settlement was facilitated in South Africa by former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, former President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya and former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka of the Republic of South Africa.

President Ramaphosa also set out progress with efforts to end conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and said he was encouraged by a report presented by President João Lourenço of Angola on the commitment of all parties to this conflict to work towards a cessation of hostilities.

He further commended steps taken by the Southern African Development Community to end conflict in Mozambique.

President Ramaphosa has also welcomed the AU PSC’s call for an immediate return to peace or to democracy in four Sahel states that have been suspended as a result of the unconstitutional taking over of power through the force of arms.

In the Summit, South Africa, as AU COVID-19 Champion, presented a number of proposals on how the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC) can be strengthened and adopt measures to better prepare the continent for pandemics.

As part of his Working Visit, President Ramaphosa chaired a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council; addressed a high-level breakfast meeting of Heads of State and Government on Africa Centres for Disease Control, and participated in a session on gender advocacy.

The President also held bilateral meetings with a number of leaders to discuss several issues of common interest, including meeting with the United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres; President Filipe Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique; Former President United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete on facilitation efforts in Lesotho, and President Denis Nguesso of the Republic of Congo. –