Darlington Musarurwa recently in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said it is necessary for all African countries to fight corruption within their respective jurisdictions as the recent launch of a continental free trade area has created a single African economy with a market of 1,2 billion people.
The Head of State and Government said this soon after arriving back home from the 11th Extraordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which deliberated on proposed reforms to transform the organisation into a highly efficient institution capable of delivering stability and economic prosperity on the continent.
He was met at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by the two Vice Presidents Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of State for National Security Owen Ncube, service chiefs and senior Government officials.
Issues of corruption, the President said, had also been discussed at the two-day continental indaba, which ended yesterday.
“It is necessary that we all agree on fighting corruption,” said President Mnangagwa. “Africa is one entity. We must work towards creating Africa as one economy because we passed the African Continental (Free) Trade Area, which means the entire 1,2 billion market is now one.
“We must all fight corruption in our respective jurisdictions.”
The African Continental Free Trade Area was successfully launched on March 18 this year.
President Mnangagwa said there was an urgent need to change the structures of the AU to reflect the contemporary transition from focusing on political issues to concentrating on economic development.
And this prompted the Assembly – the supreme organ of the bloc – to trim the number of commissions from 10 to eight, including the chairperson and the deputy chairperson of the commission.
“The structures in the past were structured to deal with the political issues of the time, but now it’s a question of the economy as well as market issues, so the following issues have been resolved: We have reduced the size of the commissions from 10 to eight,” said President Mnangagwa.
“We have also introduced the system of rotation. In the past, there was no systematic rotation of chairpersons of the AU, but now it must rotate among the five regions (West, Central, East, North and South). And also in terms of the many commissioners, we must see that they also rotate among the regions, but of course on the basis of merit.”
SADC believes that there should be “predictable inter- and intra-regional rotation following the English alphabetical order.
The proposed new structure will have a chairperson, deputy and six commissioners who will superintend over the restructured portfolios of Sustainable Environment, Agriculture Rural Development and Blue Economy; Economic Development, Trade and Industry; Education, Science, Technology and Innovation; Infrastructure and Energy; Political Affairs, Peace and Security; and Health, Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs.
On Saturday, President Mnangagwa told the Assembly that streamlining portfolios of the AU Commission – the Union’s secretariat — through focused units will help “remove overlaps and duplication in portfolios”.
The current amorphous structure is viewed as complex as it has eight commission directorates, 31 departments and offices, along with 11 AU organs, 31 specialised technical agencies and 20 high-level committees.
President Mnangagwa noted that the weekend meeting failed to agree on the framework of conducting negotiations between the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the European Union (EU) bloc, especially after the expiry of the current cooperation agreement – also known as the Cotonou Agreement — in February 2020.
The present 20-year agreement was signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin. “The only area where we could not really agree and that has been deferred for further consultations was the area of ACP (African Caribbean Pacific) relationship (with the EU),” said President Mnangagwa.
“One view was that we use the AU secretariat to the commission to negotiate on behalf of Africa, but the majority of us member states felt that the conditions are different; each member state must be able to negotiate their conditions with the ACP, which has been the situation in the past.”
President Mnangagwa noted that the Assembly indicated that member states were flexible to fund the AU budget either through the 0,2 percent levy on imports to the African continent, or through the already existing system of assessed contributions.
“With regards to funding the AU itself, we have agreed on two options: Others will fund through the 0,2 percent import tax approach or directly as before,” he said. “There is that flexibility; you can use one of the two.”
In 2015, the AU Assembly decided to finance 100 percent of the operating budget, 75 percent of the programme budget and 25 percent of the peace and support operations budget in order to wean the organisation from dependence on donor support.
African leaders are also in the process of defining the mandate of the African Union Development Agency — former National Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) – which has been integrated into the AU as a development agency.
A deliberate attempt to improve political governance on the continent is also being made through strengthening the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), among a host of other reform processes.