The African Union yesterday reiterated calls for the unconditional lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan by the West saying the embargo was infringing on the countries' efforts to decisively deal with the impact of the coronavirus.
In a statement marking Africa Day African Union Chairperson President Cyril Ramaphosa called on developed countries, multilateral institutions and the donor community to provide vulnerable countries across the world with support in the form of diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies.
"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.
"We repeat our call for a comprehensive, robust economic stimulus package for Africa that includes debt relief and other support measures for the continent's immediate humanitarian needs and necessary economic recovery," he said.
President Ramaphosa also called for financial support to sustain the livelihoods of vulnerable people.
He thanked other African member States, other nations around the world and the international community for showing solidarity during this difficult time.
"We know that no country can overcome this challenge alone. We call on developed countries, multilateral institutions and the donor community to provide vulnerable countries across the world especially in our continent with the necessary support in the form diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies as well as necessary financial support to sustain the livelihoods of vulnerable people.
President Ramaphosa paid tribute to the forebears and founders of the OAU, whose dream of greater African integration and unity has endured.
He also honoured the legions of revolutionary leaders of Africa who took up the mantle of pan-Africanism and fought for economic and political integration.
"They have left a formidable legacy for our continent and all its peoples. They continue to inspire us and the generations that will come after us.
"It was the mission of the founders of the OAU to liberate the continent from the clutches of colonial oppression, to restore Africa's fortunes and to restore the dignity of every African man, woman and child," he said.
President Ramaphosa said the coronavirus pandemic will leave a lasting mark on the continent as 96 000 people have been infected with almost 3 000 having died.
"This Covid-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on our ability to meet the aspiration of the African Union's Agenda 2063 of a peaceful, united and prosperous continent. The virus has exposed the deep inequalities that continue to exist on our continent and across the world. It has shown how far we are from realising our developmental goals and our responsibilities to the citizens of our continent. But at the same time, this global crisis should enable a new Africa to come to the fore," he said.
He said the challenge of this pandemic has shown how Africa is able to work together to solve its own problems.
President Ramaphosa said the unity was being seen day by day.
"We salute the latter-day standard-bearers of pan-African unity, the health care workers and medical personnel, the scientists and epidemiologists. We salute the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention for leading our continent's response to the pandemic. We also pay tribute to the community workers and NGOs, and the leaders of government and business who have lent their full support to Africa's coronavirus response," he said.
He also said the AU has a comprehensive strategy formulated and has since appointed special envoys to mobilise financial and other resources for its implementation.
"Covid-19 knows no borders, nationality or skin colour. To address the escalating humanitarian crisis we need to deepen our solidarity. 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.
"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," said President Ramaphosa.
The African Union chairperson also said conflicts that were breeding instability in a number of countries in Africa should end.
"As Africans we will continue to stand on the side of justice and support the people of the Western Sahara in their enduring struggle for freedom and self-determination," he said.