Parliament, Tuesday, 25 May 2021 – The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Ms Thandi Modise and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Mr Amos Masondo, join South Africans and the world in commemorating Africa Day.
Africa Day is intended to celebrate the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on May 25 1963. The OAU’s main objectives were amongst others to rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonisation and apartheid, to promote unity and solidarity amongst the African States and to promote international cooperation. In 2002 the African Union (AU) was launched following a decision by the OAU to create a new continental organisation as there was a need to refocus attention from the fight for decolonisation and ridding the continent of apartheid towards increased cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.
The Presiding Officers said: “Parliament today pays homage to all the founding forebears of the African Union (AU) who spared no effort, and sacrificed lives and livelihoods to attain the liberation and freedom we now enjoy across Mother Africa.” As we celebrate this day, we are acutely conscious of the ideals our forebears struggled for, which included battle against poverty, inequality, wars and conflicts, and limited share of resources,” said the Presiding Officers.
They added: “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage societies with almost 5 million positive cases recorded and about 127 thousand deaths, while there is only less than 2% of the vaccinated world population in Africa. We have noted with appreciation efforts to mainstream Africa in the world fight against Covid-19, with efforts to break barriers to access to life-saving interventions and vaccines. We expect the vaccination programme to gain the requisite momentum towards the necessary herd immunity that will break the back of the pandemic.”
The Presiding Officers noted that with just over 24 million doses administered in the continent, they hoped that the AU member states’ heightening of their collaboration efforts will be able to place this vaccination programme on a higher trajectory, as Africa overcomes this and other related challenges. They encouraged Africans to heed the call and get vaccinated as rollouts are steadily gaining momentum across the continent,” said the Presiding Officers.
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 aptly articulates the current challenges facing our continent, and provides a good framework for our own interventions and mobilisation of international support. These efforts include strengthening the execution of the African Continental Free-Trade agreement, mobilising world nations to remove patent barriers to the production of sufficient vaccines to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, financing African economies to enable their remodelling and recalibration.
Presiding Officers said: “We noted with appreciation the resolutions of the 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. 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 Presiding Officers also affirmed their confidence that “other major priorities of the continent, as part of striving to reach the 2063 development goals, will receive critical attention. The Pan African Parliament (PAP) is meeting this week, to build greater integration and collective efforts to place Africa on a higher development path. These include:
- The mainstreaming of gender, anchored by the emancipation of women and children from the yoke of economic exclusion, violence and abuse;
- Promoting good governance and fighting the scourge of corruption and illicit financial flows that rob Africa’s peoples of billions of dollars earmarked for development and growth; and
- Silencing the guns and eliminating conflict that depletes and diverts deeply needed resources such as budgets, human capital and infrastructure, for accelerating the development of the continent.”
“Let us continue to practice all the health and safety protocols in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones against Covid-19. Let us protect Africa and its children against all enemies of development. Let’s spare no effort to accelerate the rise of Africa as a giant so that she can play her role as an equal among the continents of the world,” said NA Speaker Modise and NCOP Chairperson Masondo to mark Africa Day.
Happy Africa Day
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
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