Monday, May 25, 2020

South African Parliament Commemorates Africa Day amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Parliament's Presiding Officers, led by National Assembly Speaker Ms Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Mr Amos Masondo, join the rest of the continent in celebrating Africa's special day – Africa Day

This year’s marks 57 years since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963, later succeeded by the African Union (AU), and is being commemorated during this most challenging time of tackling the global outbreak of COVID-19. The AU has described COVID-19 as a pandemic requiring co-ordinated efforts of its Member States, the World Health Organisation, and other partners to limit transmission and harm.

South Africa is an integral part of Africa and her national interest is fundamentally linked to the stability, unity and prosperity of the continent. The Parliament of the Republic of South Africa supports the AU’s initiatives for a prosperous Africa based on good governance, strengthened democracy, peace, stability, and respect for human rights. Parliament also supports a people-driven Africa, relying on the potential of her people especially its women, youth and children. Though significant strides have been achieved in realising these initiatives, so much more still needs to be done.

Africa Day is intended to honour and recognise the progress that the African continent has made, whilst reflecting upon the common challenges that the continent faces in a global environment. The sixth democratic Parliament will continue to strengthen relations with other Parliaments in Africa to ensure a lasting solution to the challenges facing the continent, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the AU’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) – as at 24 May 2020 – 54 AU reporting member states reported a total number of cases of 107, 412 Coronavirus, with 3, 246 deaths and 42, 626 recoveries.

In curbing an increase of the invisible enemy that has ravaged the continent and the rest of the world, South Africa has been on lockdown since 27 March, following the announcement of the National State of Disaster Act by the President of the Republic.

The Presiding Officer’s said: “We support the united efforts by African governments against the pandemic, through the AU, which includes the fundraising drive to strengthen the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“Coronavirus is primarily a human tragedy and a health crisis that is affecting countries around the world, presenting an unprecedented challenge which can overwhelm any healthcare system In this regard, the battle can only be won through the implementation of aggressive measures aimed at containing the spread of this virus,” they added.

One major side effect of the COVID-19 lockdown is that many countries across the continent are reporting an increase in cases of gender-based violence, as well as violence against children. This crisis increases as access to resources and service delivery become more strained due to the economic inactivity, compounded by the deep-seated poverty, unemployment and inequality. It thus becomes vital that efforts to flatten the curve of the virus are linked to and integrated across the oversight and legislative programmes and activities of Parliament.

In support of the AU’s initiatives for a peaceful resolution to conflicts in Africa, Parliament is hosting a virtual public lecture today. The theme of the lecture is: “Silencing the Guns: Creating conditions for Africa’s development to achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa”.

The AU embraced this theme to realise the goal of a conflict-free Africa. The theme also speaks to ending gender-based violence and violence against children.

As we honour Africa Day 2020, we call on all Africans to unite in promoting peace, for a better continent.

Africa is grappling with issues of poverty and economic inequality but its people are richly endowed with skills and talent and together we can achieve our goal of a better Africa and a better world. Let us intensify our battle against the pandemic as citizens of Africa, including adhering to social distancing, hygiene and other safety protocols.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.Republic of South Africa: The Parliament

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