President Cyril Ramaphosa has concluded a productive Working Visit to Nouakchott, in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania where he participated and led the South African delegation at the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The AU Summit convened from 01-02 July 2018 under theme "Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation". The Assembly was preceded by meetings of the Permanent Representatives Committee on 25 and 26 June 2018, as well as of the Executive Council on 28 to 29 June 2018.
On the sidelines of the Summit, President Ramaphosa chaired the meeting of AU High-Level ADHOC Committee on South Sudan.
The Committee welcomed the Khartoum Declaration as a very positive milestone towards finding a lasting and sustainable solution to the challenges faced by South Sudan. The Committee further urged all parties to respect and adhere to the ceasefire agreement. In the event of any violation of the agreement, the Committee must develop a framework which determines consequences where such important agreements are undermined.
"South Africa notes with appreciation the constructive role played by the African Union High Representative for South Sudan in advancing inclusive national dialogue between the conflicting Parties in South Sudan, in support of AU and regional mediation processes aimed at bringing lasting peace and stability to the country. We stand ready to continue providing support to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and in the context of the post-conflict reconstruction and development imperatives for South Sudan," said President Ramaphosa.
During the Summit, President Ramaphosa signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which would have far-reaching impact on the African economies and significantly increase intra-African trade and investment.
South Africa remains committed to a coordinated strategy to boost intra-Africa trade and to build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over 1 billion people and approximately $3.3 trillion in GDP. New markets in West Africa and North Africa will provide opportunities for the export of South African products. To date the agreement has been ratified by six countries, namely Chad; eSwatini; Ghana; Kenya; Rwanda and Niger.
"This agreement is an important step towards South Africa's participation in a market of over 1 billion people and will create opportunities and many benefits for South Africa, which would enable South African companies to export goods and services across the continent. It will contribute to the growth and diversification of our economy and therefore create jobs, as well as reduce inequality and unemployment," said President Ramaphosa.
The President further said that "to take full advantage of this agreement, we need to invest in infrastructure that crosses and connects countries. There are many other areas of cooperation where we can foster integration, particularly at a regional level, such as in tourism, energy and transport. This agreement offers the prospect of a new dawn for Africa."
The agreement will soon be submitted to Parliament as part of the process towards its ratification.
At the invitation of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Ramaphosa attended the AIDS Watch Africa (AWA) meeting where he had an opportunity to present to the African Union, the Common African Position on TB. AWA is an entity of the African Union with the specific mandate to lead advocacy, accountability and resource mobilisation efforts to advance a robust African response to end AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030.
The President also addressed the Member States during the Assembly debate on the 2018 theme of fighting against corruption. The session provided Member States with the opportunity to discuss specific challenges related to the fight against corruption, in both the public and private sectors, on the Continent.
During the debate, President Ramaphosa said that "Corruption affects all areas of life in our countries and we need to consistently strive to eradicate this obstacle to our development. If we do not address corruption, it will continue to impede our goals of improving the lives of our people.
It diverts resources from the poor, affects their livelihood and deprives them of their human dignity and simply put, corruption destroys lives. Fighting corruption remains a priority for the Government of South Africa. Our intensified fight against corruption is not limited to the public sector, but extends to the private sector - where there have been reports of serious corruption and collusion, and attempts to unduly influence government policy direction in pursuit of other interests"
He further called on the Member States of the African Union and all stakeholders to collaborate against the fight against corruption and to work together with international partners to ensure that resources return to Africa's shores. "It is imperative that all stakeholders collaborate to fight the scourge of corruption," he added.
In honouring and remembering the legacy of struggle and world icon, President Ramaphosa invited by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and AU Chair, President Paul Kagame, attended the Inauguration of Nelson Mandela Avenue as part of the African Union Centenary celebrations of former President Nelson Mandela.
"We humbly convey the sincere gratitude of the people and the Government of the Republic of South Africa to the people and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania for naming one of your main streets after a global hero and icon, former President Nelson Mandela, as we celebrate the centenary of his birth.
The enthusiasm and warmth that Mauritania has embraced this event is demonstrative of the pioneering role this country embraced our national liberation struggle and its willingness to continue to be a dependable partner to South Africa and its people. Let's all continue to pay homage to one of Africa's greatest sons who left an indelible mark on the international stage," said President Ramaphosa.
The AU Heads of State and Government had, during the two-day summit, deliberated on a number of issues including the institutional reform and financing of the African Union; Peace and Security on the Continent; developments related to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); the African Common Position on negotiations of a new cooperation agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) developing countries as well as the European Union (EU) Post-2020 and the adoption of the 2019 African Union Budget; elections of various structures to the AU and Pan African Parliament.
President Ramaphosa has also congratulated Professor Nthabiseng Audrey Ogude on her election as the Vice President of the Pan African University Council, saying that her appointment augured well with the Africa Union's vision of inclusivity of women empowerment, which is at the core of both Agenda 2063.
The President has returned to South Africa.
Issued by: The Presidency