Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the chairwoman of the AU on Wednesday said Africa Day was a time to reflect on achievements and also to aspire for a better life for all Africans.
“On this historic day of May 25, celebrating the 53rd anniversary of the foundation of our beloved continental organisation, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), allow me to extend my warmest and most sincere best wishes for Africa Day as we celebrate continued progress by all daughters and sons of our beloved continent,” said Dlamini Zuma.
“This year, we commemorate this special day as we seek continental transformation, take stock and reflect on the achievements in the search of a better life for all the segments of the African people.
"We all aspire to a well-governed and prosperous Africa under the basic tenets of democracy, rule of law and full respect of human and peoples’ rights.”
This year Africa Day is being celebrated under the theme: “Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
The AU has created many frameworks and normative instruments to achieve an inclusive, democratic and prosperous continent, most of which have been ratified by member states.
“Yet, many challenges still lie ahead to effectively ensure these critical norms and laws become a reality for our people. This cannot happen without the collaborative efforts of the government, civil society organisations and other stakeholders,” said Dlamini Zuma.
“Fellow Africans, we must ask ourselves critical, legitimate and tough questions as we embark on the fulfilment of the AU’s vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and having a strong voice in the international arena.”
The outgoing chairwoman of the AU Commission said the First 10-year Implementation Plan of the Agenda 2063 was already being executed. “By issuing the African passport to our heads of state and government during the Kigali Summit in July this year, we hope to accelerate the free movement of people, goods and services as one of our flagship projects,” she said.
“Our continental vision can only be successfully realised if we collectively work with member states, as well as all other stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, religious institutions, academia and the media. We all are in this together.
“Yes, good governance and inclusive democracy are important but human rights go beyond that. Human rights are about investing in Africa’s most precious resource, the over 1 billion people, the majority of whom are young, and over half of whom are women.”
Dlamini Zuma said it was about investing in health, quality education, access to basic services and infrastructure, freedom to move across the continent and beneficiating Africa’s rich natural resources.
“Human rights are, indeed, a fine balance between civic and socio-economic aspirations, which will render us a continent that is peaceful and people-centred and playing a dynamic role in the world,” said Dlamini Zuma.
“This year we want to focus on women’s rights… investing in women contributes to the prosperity of families, communities and the continent.
“Fellow Africans, Agenda 2063, THE AFRICA WE WANT, gives us a clear sense of where we want to go.
"But we must realise that this cannot happen without a strong commitment and reflection on Pan Africanism and the principle of African solidarity, which we have demonstrated before in our liberation struggles and recent fight against Ebola,” Dlamini Zuma said.