The Southern African Development Community (SADC) attended the 30th Ordinary Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government which was held from 28th to 29th January 2018, in Addis Ababa, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The Assembly was held under the theme, “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
The 30th Assembly, which was attended by Heads of State and Government or their Representatives, included representatives of Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs), the Secretary General of the United Nations, and other invited International Organizations, elected His Excellency Mr. Paul Kagame as the new Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2018.
The Summit made pertinent decisions and approved key instruments, amongst others, the Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Rights of Residence and Right of Establishment and its Draft Implementation Roadmap, and the Agreement on the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). These instruments are very critical for the continental integration agenda because they will bring about economic stability and address issues of economic growth and sustainable development in Africa. Specifically, the CFTA will assist RECs and Member States to tackle challenges around trade policies, trade facilitation, productive capacities and trade information on the continent, as well as trade related infrastructure, trade finance and factor market integration. In this regard, SADC subscribes to the fast tracking of the implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) among SADC, COMESA and EAC because that will provide an opportunity to achieve the objectives of the CFTA.
On the Implementation of the Assembly Decision on the Institutional Reform of the African Union, the Assembly reiterated the commitment to the reforms and renewal of the Union as part of the effort to ensure delivery of AU Agenda 2063 Vision. In this regard, the Assembly decided that the Reform Troika shall be expanded to be at the level of the Bureau of the Assembly, and will collaborate with President Kagame, in his capacity as Leader on the AU Institutional Reform process. Summit further decided that further consultations need to take place on matters raised by Member States in order to deepen the consensus on the best way of implementing the reforms and report to the next Summit. This decision was made in response to the submission on the SADC Position on the AU Reforms that H. E. President Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa made to the Assembly, in his capacity as Chairperson of SADC. The SADC Position emphasizes the need to undertake thorough analyses of the various proposals in the Reform Report, including the implications on the economies of the implementation of the 0.2% levy on all eligible imported goods into the Continent to finance the African Union’s budget.
The Summit launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which is vital for enhanced connectivity across the continent, leading to sustainable development of the aviation and tourism industry with immense contribution to economic growth, job creation, prosperity and integration of Africa. So far, twenty-three (23) Member States have declared their Solemn Commitment to the immediate implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision towards establishment of a Single African Air Transport. Of these 23 Member States, 5 of them are SADC Member States, and these are the Republics of Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Kingdom of Swaziland and the Republic of Zimbabwe.
On Peace and Security in the Continent, Summit recalled its previous decisions emphasizing the need to prioritize preventive diplomacy and mediation in approaching crisis and conflict situations and stressed the needto enhance the AU’s prevention capabilities and tools, in the context of the AU aspiration of “Silencing the Guns by 2020”. The Assembly, thus, directed that, innovative ways and means should be explored to enhance preventive approaches in efforts aimed at promoting peace, security and stability. This is in line with the concreted efforts that SADC is pursuing to further enhance the full operationalisation of the SADC Standby Force as a mechanism for conflict resolution.
Summit also reaffirmed its commitmentfor greater participation and responsibility of women in peace efforts in Africa. The Assembly therefore endorsed steps taken to operationalise the "Pan African Network of Women Mediators" (FemWise-Africa), as a subsidiary body of the Panel of the Wise.
Lastly, the AU Heads of State and Government condemned the racist and xenophobic behaviour and the derogatory utterances by the United States President and called upon the US Administration to retract the comment which goes against all core values and principles of humanity, multilateralism and equality of nations as enshrined in relevant African Union and United Nations instruments.
The 31st Ordinary Assembly of the African Union will be held in Nouakchott, the Republic of Mauritania from 1st to 2nd July 2018, which will be preceded by the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council from 28th to 29th June, and the 36th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representative Committee from 25th to 26th June, 2018.
GABORONE 30th January 2018