As the African continent commemorated Africa Day on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as chairperson of the African Union (AU) called for the “unconditional” lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe and Sudan.
Ramaphosa said the continent was currently seized with fighting the coronavirus.
“As we deal with the impact of this pandemic, we repeat our call for the unconditional lifting of sanctions that have been imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan. As Africans we have taken firm charge of managing this pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.
“We have a comprehensive strategy formulated by the African Union, and have appointed special envoys to mobilise the financial and other resources necessary for its implementation. Covid-19 knows no borders, nationality or skin colour.”
To address the escalating humanitarian crisis on the continent, Ramaphosa called for a deepening of solidarity in Africa.
“We must ensure the pandemic does not reverse our 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,” said Ramaphosa.
“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. We must not under any circumstances allow this global health emergency to derail our efforts to silence the guns on the continent.”
He said the conflicts that were breeding instability in a number of countries on the continent had taken a heavy toll on human lives, and had to end. It was necessary to affirm dialogue over military intervention, he said, and for Africans to align with justice and “support the people of the Western Sahara in their enduring struggle for freedom and self-determination.
The president called for an end to the oppression of Palestinians and the occupation of their homeland.
Monday’s commemorations marked the 57th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which evolved into the African Union.
The OAU was established on May 25, 1963 with the aim of promoting political, economic and social integration among African states, and to eradicate colonialism, apartheid and neo-colonialism from the continent.
The organisation was transformed into the African Union on July 9, 2002 in Durban, to achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between African countries and nations.
This year’s celebration coincides with South Africa’s one-year tenure as chair of the African Union.