Saturday 6 February 2021


President Mnangagwa will be virtually attending the 34th African Union Ordinary Session Assembly of Heads of States, which starts today and runs until the end of day tomorrow.

Key issues expected to be on the agenda as the continent`s leaders meet include the collective Covid-19 response, vaccine procurement, peace and security as well as food security.

The two-day summit is being held under the theme “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”.

The annual AU Summit comes at a time when the continent, just like the rest of the world, is battling the Covid-19 second wave.

In an interview, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Professor Amon Murwira said President Mnangagwa will be attending the continental indaba.

Ordinarily, presidents would have convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but Covid-19 protocols are discouraging large gatherings.

Minister Murwira said that the summit will focus on the Africa Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) and Prevention.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is a public health agency of the African Union established to support public health initiatives of member states and strengthen the capacity of their health institutions to deal with disease threats.

Apart from that, Professor Murwira said Zimbabwe has two senior civil servants who are vying for top posts at the upcoming summit.

Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development Engineer Amos Marawa is vying for the Infrastructure and Energy portfolio while Professor Fanuel Tagwira, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, is eyeing the Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Commission post.

Member states will vote this weekend to choose those to lead a restructured AU executive body.

The results are expected to shape how the multi-national alliance responds to the pandemic and a host of economic and security challenges.

“We are also discussing issues regarding the elections of the commissioners. We are expecting to have new commissioners. Zimbabwe has two candidates there. We have people in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who are canvassing support for our candidates,” said Prof Murwira.

The Commission is composed of a chairperson, deputy chairperson and eight commissioners, plus staff.

A number of Zimbabweans are hoping to be part of those steering the continent`s direction. The agenda of the summit was already prepared by the council of ministers meeting which was held on Wednesday and Thursday.

Security issues in the region such as in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, among other countries will be deliberated at the summit.

Outgoing AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will relinquish the role at the summit, paving way for the election of a new leader.

As outgoing AU chairman, President Ramaphosa has spent the past year overseeing efforts to scale up testing and delivery of vaccines.

The summit will present an opportunity for African leaders to refocus their attention on a number of conflicts that have had attention diverted away from them, due to the logical focus on Covid-19 last year.


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