Africa’s integration deepens


The Sunday Mail

Zimbabwe joins other African countries tomorrow to celebrate Africa Day. Our Chief Reporter Kuda Bwititi (KB) spoke to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo (SM) to knuckle down on the significance of the day.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

KB: Can you unpack the significance of the Africa Day to Zimbabwe?

SM: May 25 will forever be a special day across the African continent, a day to remind ourselves of our rich and diverse history and aspirations, evaluate the progress made in advancing the principles of democracy and governance, peace and stability, development, as well as celebrating the continent’s togetherness and unity of purpose.

This year’s theme is in line with Aspiration 1 of the Agenda 2063, which speaks about a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. This is in line with the country’s Vision 2030 of an upper middle-income economy.

Africa Day celebrations acknowledge the progress that Africans have made while reflecting upon the common challenges we face in global, regional and local context.

KB: Despite the challenges facing the nation to arrest the spread of Covid-19, are there any specific events slated by the Ministry to commemorate the day?

SM: The events are coordinated by the AU, which has come up with a number of virtual concerts.

The proceeds from the concerts will go towards Africa Covid-19 Response Fund.

It is important to note that the usual celebrations for specific countries were shelved because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, His Excellency will issue an address to the nation.

KB: Can you explain how Africa is uniting to fight Covid-19, in line with the theme of African Unity espoused by Africa Day?

SM: This year, Africa Day will be held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic which presents a grave danger to the continent because it spreads exponentially, including via asymptomatic carriers.

It is pertinent to note that African governments remain constrained by weak health-care systems, limited resources, and economic and spatial constraints on social-distancing measures. While the virus is present in all African countries, most countries have recorded fewer than 1 000 cases.  After the first case was reported in February 2020, the African Union acted swiftly, endorsing a joint continental strategy, and complementing efforts by member States and regional economic communities by providing a public health platform.

The African Union Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, appointed four special envoys to mobilise international support for Africa’s efforts to address the economic fallout of COVID-19.he Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) began to curate real time information, in close collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Africa CDC’s new Partnership on Accelerated Covid-19 Testing (PACT), which aims to test 10 million people within six months, complements governments’ efforts while building important inroads into promoting knowledge-based pandemic management.

The Africa CDC has also established the Africa Covid-19 Response Fund, in collaboration with the public-private AfroChampions initiative, to raise an initial $150 million for immediate needs and up to $400 million to support a sustained health response and socio-economic assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Africa.

Regional Economic Communities have also been proactive, unveiling initiatives within their respective regions.

KB: What are some of the highlights of the assistance that African countries have offered to Zimbabwe since the New Dispensation came into office?

SM: The AU has continued to stand with Zimbabwe in the midst of the sanctions that were imposed by the West.

Only last year, the Sadc Summit in Tanzania decided to make October 25 of every year the day in which all Sadc member States unite to call for the unconditional removal of these debilitating sanctions. As a result of this principled position, last year’s commemorations of the day was a huge success which no doubt made the West to re-look at their sanctions policy against Zimbabwe. Most recently, the AU has implored the international community to lift economic sanctions against Zimbabwe to enable it to fight the spread of Covid-19.

The AU believes such action would enable Zimbabwe and Sudan to respond adequately to the pandemic and save lives.

Zimbabwe also received material, financial and moral support during the time of Cyclone Idai, which left a devastation trail in some eastern parts of the country.

KB: What programmes are in place to deepen cooperation within the AU, in tune with the context of Africa Day?

SM: As a pan-African institution, the AU has made substantial progress in taking a stronger lead in the integration of the African continent and in global fora. Progress has been made with respect to political unity and economic integration. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had projected that the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in May 2019 promised to boost intra-African trade by as much as 25 percent by 2040.

KB: What is Zimbabwe’s contribution to the AU’s stellar projects such as Agenda 2060 and the Africa Free Trade Area?

SM: It is imperative to note that Zimbabwe associates itself with the common political values and systems enshrined in the African Union Constitutive Act as well as measures being crafted and implemented by the organisation in an effort to enhance development and prosperity on the continent. As party to the 15-member AU Peace and Security Council, Zimbabwe has played an active role in search of solutions to the conflicts on the continent. Zimbabwe contributes towards promoting peace and security on the continent through material assistance and seconding personnel to AU/UN peacekeeping missions. Zimbabwe continues to find ways to strengthen co-operation in various sectors with the rest of Africa because the continent remains central to our foreign policy engagements. This is in line with our commitment to the African Union’s ‘Agenda 2063’, the continental developmental framework.

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