Tendai Mugabe in NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania
The 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union opened here yesterday, with leaders condemning the recent terrorist attack targeted at President Mnangagwa at White City Stadium in Bulawayo that left two people dead and 47 others injured.
The injured included Vice President Kembo Mohadi and Zanu-PF national chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri, who have both been airlifted to South Africa for further treatment.
President Mnangagwa is among the African leaders attending the Summit in the Mauritanian capital.
Officially opening the session, African Union chairperson and Rwandan President Paul Kagame also denounced the cowardly attacks in Ethiopia on the same day and the recent attack in Nigeria.
He said terrorism had no place in Africa.
“The spirit of solidarity binds us together as Africans,” said President Kagame. “As a Union, we stand by the people of Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and others who have suffered in recent terrorist attacks and we are with you all in your pursuit for resistance and changes in your respective countries.
“We condemn these violent attacks and convey our condolences for the lives that have been lost. We are heartened by the strides made by the leadership of Eritrea and Ethiopia towards normalisation of relations. You are with the African Union’s support.”
Before the commencement of official proceedings, several leaders attending the Summit, including Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Ado and Hage Geingob of Namibia approached President Mnangagwa to wish him well.
Two South African Ministers, Maphisa Nqakula (Defence and Military Veterans) and Lindiwe Sisulu (International Relations Cooperation), also spoke to President Mnangagwa about the bombing incident.
Journalists from across the continent swarmed the President in the main auditorium to capture best shots following his dramatic survival in the Bulawayo attack.
The dastard and cowardly act was also slammed by Palestine, which delivered a solidarity message at the Summit.
In his remarks, Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al Maliki, who was representing his country’s Prime Minister Mr Rami Hamdallah said: “Our sincere condolences to the countries that have been affected by terrorist attacks, especially Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.”
African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki said peace and security remained one of the major priorities of the continental body.
“Issues of peace and security and stability remain a major source of concern for the continent,” he said.
“We have to bear in mind that the success against terrorism demand also that we place the observance of human rights on top of our efforts.”
President Kagame noted that financial reforms of the African Union were being implemented and the 2019 budget was reduced by 12 percent.
Among other issues, the Summit reflected on its relationship with the European Union under ACP-EU partnership that expired in 2020.
Running under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” the Summit attended by several African Heads of State and Government also tackled issues of graft and reform of the continental body.
UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed also addressed the Summit and expressed their support for Africa’s Agenda 2063.
She said the UN was keen to see greater participation of women in the continental body’s affairs.
President Mnangagwa, who is accompanied by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Mike Bimha and Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba held a bilateral meeting with his South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa on the sidelines of the Summit.
On Saturday, the President attended the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting.