As South Africa joins the continent in commemorating Africa Day, Parliament has paid homage to all founding forebears of the African Union (AU), who sacrificed lives and livelihoods to attain liberation and freedom across the continent.
“As we celebrate this day, we are acutely conscious of the ideals our forebears struggled for, which included the battle against poverty, inequality, wars and conflicts, and limited share of resources,” Parliament’s Presiding Officers said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Presiding Officers, Speaker Thandi Modise of the National Assembly, and Chairperson Amos Masondo of the National Council of Provinces, also expressed appreciation towards the 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 said on Tuesday.
The Presiding Officers noted that with just over 24 million COVID-19 doses administered on the continent, they hope that AU member States’ heightening of their collaboration efforts will be able to place the vaccination programme on a higher trajectory, “as Africa overcomes this and other related challenges”.
They further encouraged Africans to heed the call and get vaccinated as rollouts are steadily gaining momentum across the continent.
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 the continent. It also provides a good framework for interventions and mobilisation of international support.
The officers said 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, and financing African economies to enable their remodelling and recalibration.
“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”.
Africa Day is intended to celebrate the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 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.
The AU was launched in 2002. It followed 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 to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.