Zimbabwe yesterday joined the rest of Africa in celebrating the 57th Africa Day anniversary with several organisations sending solidarity messages to mark the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU).
This year’s commemorations are being held under the Theme: “Silencing the Guns in the context of the Covid-19.”
As a way of celebrating Africa Day, several African nationals, Africans in the diaspora as well as descendants of Africa, have organised commemorative cultural events that highlight the vibrancy of African cultures, foods, and traditions.
Most of these will be virtual events due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Zanu PF UK/EU District chairman Cde Masimba Tawengwa said with most countries in Africa now independent, the preoccupation was to maintain peace and stability.
“With most of Africa now politically independent, the quest is to promote and maintain peace. Peace becomes the bedrock of bringing in economic independence and prosperity required across the length and breadth of the continent. It is time the AU promotes intra-continent trade, which will benefit all the peoples of this great continent,” said Cde Tawengwa.
“From self-funding, to building strong diplomatic ties, which will not allow itself to be swayed by interests of other continents in the world, Africa through the AU, should recognise the depth and strength it has in all known resources.”
He said through its own resources, Africa had the capability to have a coherent foreign policy thrust as does the EU, attracting the right kind of developmental investment, which mutually benefits all its member states.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said the day came at a time when Africa and the rest of the world were grappling with containing the Covid-19 pandemic.
ZESN said Covid-19 has had far reaching implications including, creating the dilemma about balancing between protecting people’s health against the need to safeguard recorded gains with respect to democracy.
“There is a real danger of democratic stalling or even backsliding if the measures adopted to contain the pandemic are applied in bad faith. This would be extremely unfortunate with the human and natural resource endowments we have, the progress of Africa requires development-oriented and democratic governance systems,” said the election watchdog.
It said the objective of Africa Day was to reflect on changes, celebrate freedom of African countries and restoration of dignity of African people, as well as the quest for continental unity and political and economic emancipation of its people.
It also noted that, African governments adopted the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance that underscored the importance of ‘regular free and fair elections.’
“Regionally, Zimbabwe is guided by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, revised in 2015, and the country’s Constitution has elaborate provisions on electoral issues that are largely consistent with the continental and regional frameworks,’ said ZESN.
In commemorating Africa Day, the African Union appealed to all Africans, people of African descent and friends of Africa to “give a little” towards the Covid-19 continental Response Fund, which seeks to raise US$1 million today, as the continent commemorates Africa Day.
Created by chairperson of the AU commission Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat on March 26, the Covid-19 Response Fund seeks to strengthen continental response towards the world pandemic.
The AU said contributions can be made in any currency, which would automatically be converted into the United States dollars, which is the original currency of the fund account.
Some of the areas, which the AU seeks to strengthen in its continental response with proceeds from the fund include mitigating social, economic and humanitarian impact of Covid-19 in all African countries, boost capacity of the Africa Centre for Disease Control in supporting public health emergencies and support procurement and distribution of essential Covid-19 equipment and supplies.