COVID-19 must enable a new Africa – President Ramaphosa
Africa has marked the 57th Africa Day amid the Coronavirus pandemic with African Union Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa, calling on the continent to use the global crisis as an opportunity to re-imagine a new Africa.
Africa Day is celebrated on 25 May 2020 and marks the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
Africa has not been spared from the COVID-19 pandemic with almost 96 000 people infected with almost 3 000 having lost their lives.
Delivering the keynote address on the Africa Day special virtual broadcast on Monday, President Ramaphosa said the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the continent’s ability to meet the aspiration of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of a peaceful, united and prosperous continent.
“The virus has exposed the deep inequalities that continue to exist on our continent and across the world.
“It has shown how far we are from realising our developmental goals and our responsibilities to the citizens of our continent. But at the same time, this global crisis should enable a new Africa to come to the fore,” said President Ramaphosa.
While noting the impact of the pandemic, the AU Chair called on Africa to ensure the pandemic does not reverse the continent’s developmental gains.
“We must forge ahead with meeting the aspirations of Agenda 2063. We must move ahead with the most ambitious step towards pan-African integration to date, the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and ensure that it is operational soon.
“We must not let up on our efforts to drive the African agenda of security, peace and stability, of democracy and human rights, of women’s emancipation and the protection of the environment,” said President Ramaphosa.
The 57th Africa Day marked was under the theme: silencing the guns – creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development and intensifying the fight against COVID-19.
In line with this year’s theme, President Ramaphosa urged the continent not to let up on its efforts to drive the African agenda of security, peace and stability, democracy and human rights, women’s emancipation and the protection of the environment.
“We must not under any circumstances allow this global health emergency to derail our efforts to silence the guns on the continent.
“The tragic conflicts that are breeding instability in a number of countries on our continent are exacting a heavy toll on human life and must end. We must continue to affirm the supremacy of dialogue over military intervention,” he said.
Calls for financial support to Africa
With countries tasked with fighting the scourge of COVID-19, President Ramaphosa made a clarion call to developed countries, multilateral institutions and the donor community to provide vulnerable countries across the world especially in Africa with the necessary support in the form diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies as well as necessary financial support to sustain the livelihoods of vulnerable people.
President Ramaphosa repeated the call for an economic stimulus package for Africa that includes debt relief and other support measures for the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and necessary economic recovery.
He also reiterated the call for the unconditional lifting of sanctions that have been imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan during the pandemic.