Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peace a Prerequisite for Development, Says President Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Africa Day

Peace a prerequisite for development, says President

Herald Reporter

African leaders are determined to create an enabling and peaceful environment on the continent conducive for poverty eradication and economic development, President Mugabe said yesterday.

He said this while officiating at celebrations to mark Africa Day and lighting of the Flame of Peace at the Harare International Conference Centre yesterday.

"Africa’s leaders are determined through the mechanism of the Africa Union Peace and Security Council to resolve and manage the continent’s conflicts so that we can make real progress in our fight against poverty, disease and underdevelopment," he said.

President Mugabe said peace and development had proved to be the prerequisites for economic development throughout the world.

"All over the world, experience has shown that peace and stability are necessary preconditions for lasting socio-economic development. This is why the last Special Session of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government held in Libya in August last year, decided to declare 2010 the year of Peace and Security in Africa.

"In that context, the lighting of the Flame of Peace, which is here today, is one way of giving expression to this undertaking and it should be followed by the implementation of the various other peace initiatives proposed for the Year for Peace and Security," he said.

The President said Africans should strive to safeguard the sacrifices made by the continent’s young people during the struggle for independence of African countries.

"Of course, when we talk of peace and security we are doing so against the background of sacrifices made by our own young men and women to bring about the correct environment, the process of decolonisation that brought about that peace.

"On one hand, we talk of peace, on the other we must talk of defending that peace," said President Mugabe.

He urged Africans to express gratitude towards the continent’s founding fathers such as Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie, Ghana’s founding president Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who championed the total liberation of Africa, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria and Tanzanian former president Julius Nyerere.

"These men and many others like them deserve our eternal gratitude for their contribution towards African unity," he said.

President Mugabe said Africa was proud to host, for the first time, the soccer World Cup that starts in South Africa in just over two weeks’ time.

"As Africans, we are proud that for the first time ever the whole world will converge on our continent for the Fifa World Cup soccer tournament.

"Soccer has been an important part of African culture for many years. And by bringing people together, it has fostered an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding among our people, thereby contributing to peace and security on the continent.

"While ethnic and religious differences have sparked sectarian conflicts in Africa, soccer more than any other sport has helped people to look beyond their differences and celebrate instead the human spirit’s natural yearning for success, recognition and excellence," President Mugabe said.

It was in recognition of the important role played by sport in general that the AU Commission had said this year’s Africa Day celebrations be held under the theme, "Building and Maintaining Peace through Sport in Africa."

The ceremony was attended by a number of diplomats and senior Government officials including Vice President Joice Mujuru and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi among others.

Africa Day is the annual commemoration on May 25 of the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now AU

Meanwhile, the chairman of the AU and Malawi President, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, yesterday urged Africa to maintain the vision of the founding fathers as the continent marked the 47th anniversary celebrations of Africa Day.

"In commemorating Africa Day we need to keep in sight the vision of the founding fathers of the OAU, which provided for the framework on which Africa stood together to face the struggle for political independence.

"The then OAU successfully completed its mandate on decolonisation and the struggle against apartheid," he said.

Dr wa Mutharika said the AU was formed after African leaders recognised the need to accelerate socio-economic development on the continent.

"The African Heads of State and Government recognised the need to accelerate the socio-economic development of the continent, but more importantly, to speed up the process of integration. The AU, therefore, is designed to establish a meaningful balance between the need for political stability and rapid socio-economic transformation and development. Accordingly, the AU agenda for integration and develop-

ment continues to focus on conflict resolution while at the same time pursuing the process of integration," he said.

The AU chairman said the organisation had established a number of institutions to put in place the necessary framework for development.

"The establishment of the Pan-African Parliament, the Economic Social and Cultural Council, the Peace and Security Council, the African Court of Justice and Human Rights and other Union institutions is a clear manifestation of Africa’s determination to put in place the necessary framework that would enable it overcome the challenges facing the continent, poverty, hunger, disease and conflict just to name a few," said Dr wa Mutharika.

He said it was important for Africans to celebrate their achievements and also take stock of future challenges.

"On this memorable day, therefore the time is appropriate to take stock of our past achievements and to celebrate our successes but, more importantly, to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead of us. It is my strong conviction that we can overcome these challenges. I therefore seize this opportunity to call on the African people to be united more than ever before to move in the same direction and by so doing would be honouring the memory of the founding fathers of our continental organisation, AU," he said.

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