Your Excellency President Idriss Deby, President of the Republic of Chad,
Your Excellency President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt,
Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Members of delegations present here today,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is both a privilege and an immense honour to address this distinguished gathering of Heads of States and Government; who out of commitment to realizing an Africa that is at peace with itself, stable and characterized by good governance, voluntarily joined the APRM.
I would like to begin by thanking my brother and dear friend, President Idriss Deby of the Republic of Chad for leading the APRM for the past two years.
Excellency, you have indeed led us with great distinction.
Today you pass on the baton of leadership of a Mechanism that is in far greater health and shape than it was before.
The APRM is now more focused, energized and fit-for-purpose, and we owe much of this to your stewardship - so we thank you dearly.
I must also recognize my dear brother, President Uhuru Kenyatta for his sterling role in defining and leading the revitalization drive of the APRM from 2016 to 2018.
The APRM is to us what sitting around the fire was to our ancestors - a rendezvous for family and friends; a meeting place of minds; a place where we dialogue and exchange views; and a secure space in which we can turn to each other for support, encouragement and solutions to the challenges we face.
It is through the APRM that we are able to workshop solutions to our shared challenges and share best practice in governance at both regional and continental levels.
In affirmation of this noble role, I gladly accept the honour of leading the APRM for the next two years.
We do so in the knowledge that we stand on the broad shoulders of our predecessors.
I pledge to take forward the achievements and gains that have been registered with equal, if not greater vigour.
Working with the collective, I also look forward to pursuing innovations that will catalyze the positive transformation of the APRM across the continent.
The agenda before us today reflects both continuity and change.
We have Country Review Reports to consider and deliberate on, but we also have a new innovation in the form of the Targeted Reviews that we will examine and debate.
It should be said that it is the first time in the entire history of the APRM that this is happening, right here in Addis Ababa.
We stand on the threshold of a new epoch of governance and leadership in Africa.
The country review processes are at the core of the mandate and work of the APRM.
They are a niche that distinguishes our Mechanism from other equally important initiatives we have on our continent.
We need to build on our achievements in this regard, and encourage more of our member states to join those countries that have undergone country review processes.
South Africa will soon launch processes at home towards our Second-Generation country review.
We must continue to encourage countries that have undergone the review process to implement the recommendations contained in their National Plan of Action.
These recommendations are key in achieving the much needed impact on our continent.
Unless they are executed, the reviews will not translate into tangible action at a country level.
The APRM is a groundbreaking political mechanism that convenes us amongst our peers.
As such, it must be a forum that continuously strives to be open as well as collaborative, and that operates in the spirit of fellowship, friendship and brotherhood.
Our engagements as leaders must continue to be characterized by honesty, critical introspection and sincerity.
I have no doubt that the deliberations in this Forum will be as frank and robust as they have always been.
Be assured that South Africa will play its part to deepen the review processes, and upscale the implementation of actions needed to improve governance.
The Continental Secretariat is here to support us in our efforts to improve and transform our work, and are to be thanked for the excellence with which they continue to fulfill this critical function.
South Africa also looks forward to working together with you to persuade colleagues who are not yet members to join us.
Our goal is to achieve universal accession to the APRM by 2023, as per the Decision of the Assembly of our Union.
This APRM is our Mechanism. It is from Africa, out of Africa, and for Africa.
Its ownership does not rest with a Secretariat, but with each of us.
It is a vehicle for advancing unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity.
It is a driver of change. Day by day, the work of the APRM brings us all the closer to realizing the Africa we Want.
And yet we are only custodians, for we shoulder this responsibility on behalf of the men, women and children of our great continent.
Let us deepen our collaboration and strengthen our resolve and our ownership of the APRM.
Its success rests on the efforts of each and every one of us.
Let us remember the wise words of Alexander the Great, that upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.
I wish all of us luck and success with the upcoming deliberations, and thank you for your kind attention.