President Cyril Ramaphosa has returned home after a working visit to Nouakchott, in 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 Presidency said on Tuesday.
The AU Summit convened at the weekend under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
On the sidelines of the Summit, 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," said President Ramaphosa.
"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.”
During the Summit, President Ramaphosa signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which would have a far reaching impact on African economies and significantly increase intra-African trade and investment.
The Presidency said 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. 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.
“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 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, Ramaphosa attended the AIDS Watch Africa (AWA) meeting, where he presented to the African Union, the Common African Position on TB.
Speaking at the Assembly debate on the 2018 theme of fighting against corruption, Ramaphosa said: "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.
In honouring and remembering the legacy of struggle and world icon, the Ramaphosa invited by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and AU Chair, President Paul Kagame, to attend the inauguration of Nelson Mandela Avenue.
“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 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.
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 Agenda 2063.