Friday, May 25, 2007

Africa Day 2007: AU Debate Intensifies; ANC Statement; Western Sahara, etc.

Debate over proposed African Union govt intensifies

By Joseph Ngwawi
Zimbabwe Herald

THE African Union has instituted an audit of its institutions as debate escalates on the form of a proposed Union government.

Chairperson of the AU Commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré, said the AU will finalise the audit "before it can conclude the debate of the formation of a Union government."

Existing AU institutions are the AU Commission, the Pan African Parliament and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council.

Other institutions of the AU are the AU Court of Justice, the African Central Bank, the African Investment Bank, and the African Monetary Fund, but these are yet to be launched.

The commission is the secretariat of the AU, playing a central role in the day-to-day management of the continental body.

It is headed by a chairperson elected by the AU General Assembly comprising the leaders of the 53 African countries, the chairperson is assisted by a deputy chairperson and eight commissioners responsible for various sector portfolios.

The previous election method has been criticised for giving member states power over proposing and supporting individual candidates, it was also accused of leading to weak lines of accountability for the chairperson and poor cohesion within the AU Commission.

Konaré said the AU may have to think of a transitional formula that should see a new commission come into effect in January 2008.

The term of the current commission runs out this year. Konaré has already indicated he will be available for re-election.

Discussions during the Ghana summit of AU leaders in June will be devoted to the formation of a United States of Africa, a vision first mooted by Ghana’s first post-independence president, Kwame Nkrumah, and other African leaders in the 1960s.

According to an ambitious plan revealed at a meeting of civil society organisations held in Johannesburg, South Africa, the proposal to be presented before the African leaders will include a three-phase transition towards creation of the Union government.

The proposal was developed by the Committee of Seven tasked by the AU to produce a roadmap on the United States of Africa.

The first phase — running from this year to 2009 — will witness the formal launch of the Union government. It is envisaged that during this period a new executive commission — comprising of a president and vice president appointed by General Assembly as well as commissioners appointed by the AU Executive Council — will be in place. The council comprises of the ministers of foreign affairs of AU member states.

The second phase will run from 2009 to 2012 during which the Union government is expected to be fully operational and the constitutional groundwork for the United States of Africa will be laid.

It is envisaged that all the required structures of the United States of Africa at national, regional and continental levels will be in place during the final phase running from 2012-2015.

This will include the creation of a legislating African parliament directly elected by universal suffrage with proportional representation. This will mean that countries with large populations will have more members of the reconstituted PAP compared to the smaller countries.

There is, however, a lot to be done before the dream of a United States of Africa can become a reality.

A unified African government would demand, among other things, a unified strong economy underpinned by a convergence of economic indicators, and an effective continental parliament.

Africa has an interesting mix of economic performances, with some of the countries doing very well while others are not.

Set up in 2004, the PAP is advisory for the first five years, not legislative, and thus faces the challenge of being taken seriously in its deliberations and interventions.

As delegates to the CSO consultative meeting in South Africa heard, another challenge for the march towards the Union government will be the popularisation of the idea among African people.

The CSOs concluded that while the long-term vision of a Union government is desirable, current efforts are excessively focused on institutional reforms "rather than mapping out the implications for strengthened African citizenship and needs more popularisation and consultation with citizens."

The popularisation and consultations may have to take the form of national debates and public awareness programmes on the issue, the CSOs said.

"After carefully studying the Study for the Proposal for Continental Government and the Study into the Modalities for Continental Government, it is clear that without the full involvement and participation of African women and men, the vision of a People’s Union will not be realized. In this regard, the Pan African Parliament could play a pivotal role in catalysing informed dialogue at both continental and national levels," the CSOs said in a communique issued at the end of their conference.

It was agreed that CSOs must also take the lead on generating an informed public debate on the issue. More than 30 African and international CSOs working in more than 25 African countries participated in the first Consultative Dialogue with the Pan Africa Parliament under the theme "Building Effective Mechanisms for Civil Society Engagement with Pan African and Regional Institutions".

The dialogue took place on the sidelines of the 7th Ordinary Session of the PAP held from May 7-18 under the theme "African Union Government".


24 May 2007

On the occasion of Africa Day, on Friday 25 May 2007, the African National Congress pays tribute to the people and leaders of Africa as they forge ahead with the struggle for the total liberation of the continent's people.

This year's celebrations of Africa Day come at a time when the continent remains engaged in the effort towards the realisation of the long-standing dream of a united, peaceful, democratic and prosperous continent.

The commemoration of Africa Day also comes at a time when Ghana celebrates fifty years of independence. On 6 March 1957 Ghana became the first country in Africa, south of the Sahara, to gain independence from colonial rule. As envisioned by Ghana's first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the country went on to serve as a guiding light of African independence and solidarity. Ghana's attainment of independence and the subsequent ideological support it extended to other colonised countries on the continent, culminated in the liberation of many of these countries from colonial rule.

This year's celebrations also mark the fifth anniversary of the African Union.

On 25 May 1963, the leaders of Africa made history and gave significant impetus to the continent's collective struggle for independence by establishing the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Nearly four decades followed in which African states stood united, while making efforts to give depth and meaning to their political independence and striving for the socio-economic development of their people.

The year 2002 saw the launch of the African Union (AU), an organisation that sought to continue with the emancipation of Africans as envisaged by the founders of the OAU, while translating the gains of independence into economic progress. The AU should further develop its capacity to guide our continent during this era of globalisation and enhance its capacity to serve as an instrument for unity, stability and progress within Africa.

The African Union has given birth to the Pan African Parliament (PAP), an historic development in the effort to bring together the representatives of all Africans. The creation of the PAP is the manifestation of the will of the African people to foster greater unity and economic integration on the continent and to mobilise its human and natural resources to meet the challenges of globalisation and bettering the lives of its people.

In welcoming the honour by the continent of hosting the PAP, President Thabo Mbeki called it "The African Parliament of Liberators", a fitting description as it has created a new space for all Africans to forge a collective identity and to act together in our interest within and between our countries, as well as in the many important global engagements with other regions and the rest of the world.

During the course of 2007, the ANC has set itself the task of working further to ensure that the AU lives up to the objectives for which it was created. The ANC will therefore strive to work to achieve greater unity and solidarity among the African states and the people of Africa; accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent; promote and defend common positions on issues of African interest; promote peace, security and stability on the continent; establish conditions necessary to enable the continent to become a recognised player in the global political economy; and coordinate and harmonise the policies between existing and future regional economic communities.

Initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) provide a blueprint and a programme for coordinated progress across the different states of Africa in crucial areas of social and economic development. The growing optimism about Africa is accompanied by the growing confidence among the African masses that we have the capacity to solve our own problems. As an important part of this effort, we must continue to work for the success of NEPAD.

While the continent can pride itself with having made great strides towards the resolution of conflict in some countries long besieged by conflict and instability, many challenges remain. We cannot celebrate until all our fellow brothers and sisters on the continent achieve lasting stability and freedom.

The people of the Saharawi Republic remain engaged in a struggle for independence. The ANC and other progressive movements in South Africa have pledged to act in solidarity with the people of the Saharawi Republic in their quest for self-determination. The ANC therefore welcomes the activities in support of the Saharawi people currently taking place in South Africa, and urges all South Africans to lend their support to this struggle.

On this memorable day, 43 years since the inception of our first continental organisation, the OAU, the ANC calls on all Africans to rise as one and march together for lasting peace, integration and development on our continent. Acting in unison, we can build a better Africa and World.

Issued by: African National Congress
More information: Smuts Ngonyama 082 994 2112

PRETORIA 24 May 2007 Sapa


About 100 people gathered at the Moroccan Embassy in Pretoria in support of the Western Sahara's independence from Morocco.

The march, which saw supporters from the Young Communist League (YCL) and the Congress of SA Trade Union, was also attended by ANC Youth League president Fikile Mbalula.

He said the African continent cannot celebrate Africa Day while other people were not yet free.

YCL president Buti Manamela said Morocco should end its form of colonialism on the people of Western Sahara.

Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 after Spain withdrew its 90 year occupation.

Morocco then moved in to claim Western Sahara as its territory.

Although the claim was rejected by the International Court of
Justice, the Saharawi people have been fighting for their
independence since.

However, the African Union along with South Africa recognise
Western Sahara as an independent state.

UN Statement on Africa Day

May 25, 2007 at 6:07 PM

UNITED NATIONS May 25 (UPI) -- To mark Africa Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday called for more international effort to bolster African healthcare.

Africa has made efforts for its own renewal, Ki-moon said, but "extreme poverty -- together with lack of access to basic education, healthcare and adequate nutrition -- continues to prevent millions of talented, promising young people in Africa from fulfilling their potential."

The continued devastation caused by the AIDS epidemic is also standing in the way of African development, he said.

Africa Day marks the day in 1963 when African leaders committed to the Organization of African Unity framework for independence.

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