Leonard Ncube and Farirai Machivenyika in Victoria Falls
African Union Commission, deputy commissioner Mr Kwesi Quartey has called for the removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by United States and its allies, saying they were negatively impacting on the country’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said this in his remarks during the Special Session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism during the Sixth Session of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (AFRFSD) in Victoria Falls.
“For us to build the conditions to achieve these lofty ambitions, the AU has called for the sanctions on this country to be lifted,” Mr Quartey said.
The Sadc and AU last year resolved to call for removal of the sanctions imposed by the West on the country.
The two bodies also resolved to use international platforms to lobby for their removal.
Mr Quartey said it was time Africa doubled its efforts to achieve goals set by the UN under Agenda 2030 to achieve the SDGs.
“The year 2030 is no longer a distance away, 2030 is already upon us so we don’t have time anymore and we have to work together closely and consistently,” he said.
“We are caught up with the fierce urgency of now, time waits for no man even more-so for our women and children who continue to suffer from the absence of peace. And as indicated in the AU theme of the year (silencing the guns), the most vulnerable groups are women and our children who bear the brunt of all the ill effects of armed conflicts they have nothing to do with.
“Our women and girls continue to suffer disproportionately from gender based violence and all the abuses and violations of their human rights in armed conflicts.”
He added that armed conflicts were the biggest challenge facing the continent.
“It is fair to say the armed conflicts are the biggest challenge for the successful implementation of our agenda 2063.
“My distinguished boss Dr Moussa Faki Mahamat in his address at the last AU summit reiterated that Africa requires the participation of all and most importantly the women if we are to achieve peace and development on the continent and thereby he declared the decade 2020 to 2030 the decade for the inclusion of the women of Africa,” he said.
Mr Quartey commended the efforts of the AU and the UN to solve Africa’s problems.
“As we gather here today, for the special session I would want to recognise and commend the efforts of both institutions (UN and AU) have demonstrated in recent years to find appropriate systemic solutions to the systemic problems that face Africa and various complexities that we are confronted with on a day to day basis.
“We need to inculcate a culture of peace and tolerance at the very basics of our children and youth because through true education our children begin to see what is important in the world and become less likely to be taken by the machinations and fantasies of fanatics of religion.
Through education we can have a literate and enumerate continent who are now prepared to use science and technology for the continent’s development,” he said.
The summit seeks to review progress made by the continent in implementing and monitoring the SDGs, facilitate peer learning and advance transformative solutions and actions to accelerate implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 goals.
For the first time, all the SDGs are being discussed in one meeting.
Yesterday a special session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM-Africa) and youth engagement was held with the aim of inspiring African youth to actively participate and contribute to the continent’s economies.
The regional forum is an intergovernmental platform convened by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in collaboration with the AU Commission, AfDB and the UN system to review progress, share experiences and lessons learned towards attaining the continent’s Agenda 2063.
The conference which started yesterday ends on Thursday and is being held under the theme:
“2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.”
Speaking during the special session on youth at the ongoing conference, UN deputy Secretary-General Ms Amina Mohamed challenged African countries to come up with home grown solutions to end conflicts on the continent.
Discussions during the session were based on the AU theme of year: “Silencing the Guns” in the context of the “Decade of Action” and the role of youth in realising the African agenda.
Ms Mohamed said there is need for home-grown solutions to African problems.
“There is no other solution bigger than the African Union initiative on silencing guns. Africa should realise its potential towards silencing guns and trying to achieve sustainable development,” said Ms Mohamed.
She said the continent should be able to spend less on administration and more on action towards ending conflict in light of limited resources.
Ms Mohamed said the UN has assets all over the world which are however not enough to make the world body attend to all issues.
“Some of the challenges we have in Africa have been there for decades and now is the time not to just transition from sustainable development to peace but to be very genuine about what we do and the impact of what we are doing,” said Ms Mohamed.
She said there is need to find a platform for collaboration and come up with a five-year plan towards ending conflict.
UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Ms Vera Songwe said much effort should be put in silencing the guns as the theme of the year.
She said failure to address underdevelopment, marginalisation and inequalities are some of the major drivers of conflict in the continent.
“In 10 years, we should be a generation that delivers hence we need collaboration between AU and UN,” she said.
AU Special representative to the UN Ms Hannah Tetteh challenged member states to focus on preventing conflict through cooperation.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa arrived here late yesterday afternoon to officiate at the ongoing 6th session of summit ahead of the conference’s official opening today.
He landed at Victoria Falls International Airport just after 5PM accompanied by Foreign Affairs and International Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube.
He was welcomed at the airport by Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima, the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of State Security Owen Ncube, and Victoria Falls mayor Somveli Dlamini, service chiefs and senior Government officials.
At the conference venue President Mnangagwa was welcomed by Zimbabwe Ambassador to the United Nations Frederick Shava and senior Government officials. He was immediately taken to the briefing room and was expected to meet Ms Mohamed last night. The official opening is set for this morning.