Thursday, 13 June 2013
Directorate of Information and Communication
TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE BY AU COMMISSION CHAIRPERSON, DR. NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA
AU Headquarter, Addis Ababa12 June 2013.
STATEMENT BY DR. DLAMINI ZUMA
Thank you to the media for attending this briefing and to the viewers on social media. The AU Commission had a vibrant engagement with the media before and during the launch of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, and we thank you for the coverage of these activities. We should continue this vibrant interactions with the media, and hence this press briefing.
1. Review of the launch of the launch of 50th Anniversary celebrations in May 2013
We are convinced that we reached our goals with the celebrations, with events across the continent and in Addis Ababa that were truly memorable. These events captured the imagination of our people, including the discussions by different sectors, such as women, trade unions and African business, whose inputs were eventually incorporated into the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration.
For example, at the Intergenerational dialogue with young people on 24 May, the youth felt they are not sufficiently involved in the activities of the Union, and wanted a dedicated Commissioner for youth. This may not be immediately possible, since it involves amending the AU Constitutive Act. To address their concerns, in addition to the Youth division currently under the AU Commissioner for Human Resources Science and Technology, and since youth matters are cross-cutting, we undertook the establishment of a coordinating desk on Youth in the Bureau of the Chairperson. We also agreed to convene an annual Youth Parliament. The youth also had a representative speaker at the Assembly debate on Pan Africanism and African renaissance.
The debate on Pan Africanism and African Renaissance, involved a panel and inputs from Heads of States and Government, but also from the Diaspora, which reflects the long history of solidarity between peoples of Africa and of African descent, in the struggles against slavery and colonialism.
We also had the main event at Millennium Hall, showcasing Africa’s culture and music, which played and continues to play an important role in our development and renaissance. Last but not least was the football match between Ethiopia and Sudan, as founder members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). So yes indeed, all sectors of Africa were involved in the celebrations.
2. Matters arising from the 21st Ordinary Summit of the AU, 26-27 May 2013
We had our 21st Ordinary AU Summit back to back with the Anniversary launch.
The Summit adopted the 3rd African Union Commission Strategic plan (2014-2017), which is available to the public and yourselves, but most important the Summit decided to have a popular version of the plan, so that the African citizenry knows our plans and programmes and can participate in the activities of their Union.
The Summit received a report of the AU Panel chaired by President Obasanjo on Alternative sources of Funding, which was debated widely and referred to the Ministers of Finance for further deliberation and presentation early next year. The Summit agreed that Africa should be increasingly self-reliant and decrease its dependency.
The issue of Africa’s rapid response capacity (African Immediate Crisis Response Capacity), whilst the African Standby Force is still being implemented, was another matter of lively debate. The rapid response capacity is necessary, until the ASF is in place, to enable the continent to implement decisions on preventing and resolving conflicts, and creating conditions for sustainable peace.
Heads of State also received a report from the panel led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, aimed at addressing the post 2015 development agenda so as to ensure that Africa’s development agenda and priorities are taken into account.
Yearlong 50th anniversary activities
The celebrations and reflections of the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU will continue for the rest of the year until May 2014 and will be organized around different monthly themes.
Some of the immediate activities include the celebration of Mandela day on 18 July and the PANAFEST during the same month in Ghana.
During July we will focus on the theme of Health, including the Summit on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in Abuja from 12-16 July 2013 to consider progress since the first Special Summit on the issue in 2006. In early August, a meeting themed “Call for action for maternal and child mortality” will discuss further practical steps to reduce mortality and come up with clear road map. This meeting is meant to be an inclusive dialogue and its road map will serve as a guideline for any action to be taken in the future. Trends are in the right direction but mortality is not falling fast enough.
The AUC will conclude 2013 by collating and consolidating all the consultations and inputs on Agenda 2063, for presentation to the January 2014 Summit and adoption in June 2014.
3. Other activities of the AUC since Summit
We participated in the TICAD V which was well represented. Arising from this, we will work with Japan around the areas of skills development and agriculture, and on Japanese investment into manufacturing in Africa.
We also participated in the Budapest Africa forum, since the Hungarian government recently decided to begin to re-engage with Africa. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe played an important role in supporting us in the anti-colonial struggles, and in particular in skills development. Arising from this forum, we hope to cooperate with countries from the region, including Russia on skills development, infrastructure, investment in Africa’s industrialisation and other common programmes. As a follow-up to the meetings with BRICS earlier this year, we also visited Russia in the same spirit. In the next few months, the AU Commission will take part in meetings on the margins of the G8 Summit and in the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013.
From the onset, we said that the African Union should be a union of all countries, and we have been receiving complaints from the African Small Island States, that they feel a bit isolated. I will therefore be going to Seychelles for the 20th anniversary of their national day, to show that the Commission embraces the Small Islands States as important to the work of the AU.
QUESTIONS FROM JOURNALISTS
· AFP: escalation of tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt on Nile. How to address issues such as the Post-2015 Development programme, when there is the challenge of Africa financing its own agenda.
· ICC and position of AU, engagement with issue.
· PANA: Sudan and the threat of closing oil fields, if South Sudan does not stop supporting rebels, and may even renege on all agreements.
· Bloomberg: meeting with Sudanese Foreign Minister yesterday, oil shutdown and implications for AU mediation process, does this mean change of track?
AUC CHAIRPERSON RESPONSE
· We indeed met the Sudan Foreign Minister yesterday and had fruitful discussions. The AU High Level Panel did well in its work, and we have to engage with them, IGAD and with the two countries to find a solution. We won’t speculate on an oil shutdown, we are trying to prevent the shutdown and avert things getting to such a point. The AU mediators are therefore seized with this matter, having contacted the two countries and IGAD.
· On Kenya and the ICC, the AU 21st Ordinary Assembly pronounced on the matter. The intention was not to stop the case, but to allow the Kenyan Judiciary to deal with the matter, since the ICC is a court of last instance. At the time when the case was referred to the ICC, the Kenyan
Judiciary was not trusted. Since then, Kenya had far-going reforms of its Judiciary and adopted a new Constitution. We therefore hope that we can find a solution.
· Post 2015 is an international agenda, it is not an agenda for Africa only. Of course, Africa is part of that global agenda and should make an input. Where it coincides with our priorities, we will implement. Africa is looking at alternative sources of funding, we are not saying that the rest of the world must not contribute to Africa’s development, but Africa must move towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance. If we look at infrastructure development, projects currently being undertaken in the continent are increasingly being funded by African public and private sectors. We are working with the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank on Agenda 2063, and the issue of alternative sources of funding and domestic resource mobilization is a key component of this Agenda.
· On the Ethiopia-Egypt and the Nile issue, the view of the Commission is that there should be dialogue that results in win-win situations and that will not harm any one country. Both countries need the water and the resources of the Nile. The solution should therefore not be in the context of the old colonial solutions, but in the spirit of Pan-Africanism. One of the HOSG of the two countries approached us before the summit to see if the AUC can help mediate to find win-win solutions and we will be seized with the matter.
· From social media: How can we push forward economic development and mobility across the continent?
· Spanish News Agency: non-colonial context, do we then support Nile basin country agreement?
· Somaliland’s push for independence and AU’s position?
· Madagascar and SADC/AU position two candidates not eligible to stand, what pressure and progress?
· In-house AUC – Strengthening institutional capacity
AUC CHAIRPERSON RESPONSE
· Egypt-Ethiopia issue: I was not referring to any specific agreement. We have just celebrated our 50th anniversary, and in the spirit of Pan Africanism, Africans should develop together and find peaceful solutions to their problems.
· Somaliland: since I’ve been Chairperson the matter has not been placed on the agenda, we recognized Somalia as one country. What is important for all of us is to get Somalia back on track, to a point where it is peaceful and stable, where it can give services to the people of Somalia and contribute to the development of the continent.
· Madagascar: We want to ensure elections in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Madagascar Constitutional order. What we can see as the problem is that they are not doing this. If they don’t follow their constitution at the beginning of the electoral process, this does not bode well for the free and fair elections and for the legitimacy of the entire process. We want them to be reintegrated into the AU again, it is painful to see an empty seat of any one of
our Member States and we will continue to work with SADC to ensure the process moves forward.
· The free movement of goods and services is an urgent matter, which all Member States must address in their laws, policies and regulations. This is also why we are looking at connecting our people through infrastructure – transport and ICT. This is part of our Agenda 2063 to accelerate African development and prosperity.
· Strength and capacity of AU Commission: the AUC must be stronger, more efficient and effective. We will implement the decision to have a further Staff audit and Needs Assessment of the Commission and AU organs. In-house, at the Commission, we are already working on what should be done to have a stronger Commission.