ZIMBABWE – The 26th Session of the African Union Summit is underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with preparatory meetings having begun on January 21.
The summit, running under the theme “2016: African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women”, ends on January 31, with the heads of state and government General Assembly slated for the last two days.
President Mugabe, the incumbent chair and the only leader on the continent to have rubbed shoulders with the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity, has ably steered the continental ship over the past year, and true to his pledge when he assumed the reins last January, managed to refocus Africa’s attention to industrialisation, value-addition and beneficiation of the continent’s resources.
During his tenure, the African Union adopted agenda 2063 that dovetails with Government’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, in advocating the judicious exploitation of the continent’s resources through value-addition and beneficiation.
It is our hope that Africa will build on the solid foundation laid by President Mugabe, a foundation that again tallies with the foundational thrust of the AU which succeeded the OAU in 2002 with a brief to move the continent’s trajectory from mere political to economic independence.
The OAU ably spearheaded the decolonisation of the continent, culminating in the emancipation of South Africa in 1994.
Africa’s last remaining colony, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, currently occupied by Morocco, cries for salvation and it is our hope that the summit can come up with a win-win solution that erases the scourge of colonialism from the continent.
Solutions also need to be found to emancipate 14 countries in Francophone Africa that are still being bled by France through punitive colonial taxes.
These countries were made to sign colonisation continuation pacts with France through which they agreed to pay taxes for alleged benefits that accrued from French colonisation yet it is France which should pay reparations for colonial pillage.
And reparations, is the narrative the entire continent should pick up.
It is time Africa stood and spoke as one to demand recompense for wrongs wrought on it.
And one way of ensuring a powerful voice is to agitate for the reform of the UN Security Council in line with the Ezulwini Consensus. Africa should also press for the reform of the global financial architecture whose leadership is still the preserve of the United States and Europe who abuse the institutions to achieve their foreign policy goals.
It is providential that the summit theme, ‘2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women’, also dovetails with developments on the domestic scene in the wake of the Constitutional Court ruling outlawing marriage before the age of 18.
Before the ruling, girls could legally enter into marriage at the age of 16 and 18 for boys, a development that left girls at the mercy of the scourge of child marriages.
The Concourt ruling is thus a boon for women empowerment as it will allow girls to pursue their dreams instead of being hampered by early marriages.
Under President Mugabe’s chairmanship, Africa returned to source.
And the senior statesman did not disappoint as he has laid the requisite foundation for the continent’s holistic independence.
It is up to Africa to build on it and not lose the way.