Parliament, Thursday, 25 May 2023 - The Presiding Officers of Parliament, National Assembly Speaker, Ms. Nosiviwe Mapisa Ngqakula, and National Council of Provinces Chairperson, Mr. Amos Masondo, join the African continent in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), precursor to the African Union (AU).

The annual commemoration of Africa Day marks the founding of the OAU in 1963, which was later renamed the AU in 2002. This year, May 25, is of special significance because it is the 60th anniversary of the formation of this first African institution.

On May 25, 1963, Africa made history with the foundation of the OAU. 32 heads of independent African states met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to sign the charter, creating Africa’s first post-independent continental organisation. This was the manifestation of the pan-African vision for an Africa that was united, free, and in control of its own destiny, which was solemnised in the OAU Charter.

The AU was officially launched in July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, following a decision by its predecessor, the OAU, to create a new continental organisation to build on its work. The decision to relaunch Africa’s pan-African organisation was the outcome of a consensus by African leaders that in order to realise Africa’s potential, there was a need to refocus attention from the fight for decolonialization and ridding the continent of oppression, which had been the focus of the OAU, towards increased cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.

The AU body consists of 55 member states, and it continues to build on the mandate and achievements of the OAU while also making efforts at realising the vision and objectives of the AU.

May 25, Africa Day, is aimed at celebrating and acknowledging the successes of the OAU since its inception. It symbolises Africa’s unity, commitment to peace, democracy, and economic development.

Reflecting on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the OAU, the Presiding Officers of Parliament said this milestone provides an opportunity for the African continent to reflect on our proud past, our current challenges, and future opportunities and reaffirm our common heritage and our common future. The Presiding Officers further call on all the AU member states to honour this great achievement by not only celebrating and acknowledging the successes of the AU but by ensuring the fruits of the liberation of this continent are enjoyed by all her citizens through the elimination of poverty, inequality, unemployment, conflicts, corruption, and criminality, amongst others.

This year's 60th anniversary of the founding of the OAU coincides with the sitting of the second session of the Pan African Parliament’s Sixth Parliament, which is currently sitting at its headquarters in Midrand. The session is currently held under the African Union (AU) theme for 2023, "Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area”.

The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr. Amos Masondo, is leading a multi-party delegation of the Parliament of South Africa to the 2nd PAP Ordinary Session from May 15 to June 2, 2023.

The Presiding Officers say the formation of the PAP is one of the numerous AU success stories in Africa. The PAP, whose seat is in South Africa, one of the last African nations to attain liberation, was established to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent. It is further intended as a platform for people from all African states to be involved in discussions and decision-making on the problems and challenges facing the continent.

PAP is one of the AU organs, and its inaugural sitting took place on March 18, 2004, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

According to the AU, the 60th anniversary of the AU is being celebrated under the slogan “Our Africa, Our Future”.

The National Assembly is scheduled to hold an Africa Day debate this afternoon under the theme “Deepening the African Union’s vision of African unity, prosperity, and development.”

ISSUED by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo