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Source: South Africa News Agency

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, African countries should not lose sight of combatting conflict, which continues in some places on the continent, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor.

“As we continue to fight the pandemic, we should not lose sight of the challenges that we continue to face as the continent. The ongoing conflicts in Africa and the difficulties we continue to face in our collective quest to silence the guns by 2020 are a serious cause for concern, and must be addressed with the urgency and vigour they deserve,” said the Minister.

Pandor chaired the 37th Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) on Tuesday, in her capacity as the chairperson of the Executive Council of the AU.

The Minister said the impact of climate change, drought, extreme levels of poverty and increasing numbers of unemployment continue to hamper development on the continent.

“This requires us to spare no effort or resources to ensure that the continent realises its socio-economic potential and its vision as outlined in Agenda 2063.”

Pandor said the continent’s challenges need an AU that is well resourced and capable of addressing the challenges on the continent, which continue unabated – even during the pandemic.

“The AU must develop its ability to support the continent in establishing functional institutions that can withstand emergencies such as COVID-19.”

The two-day session, which got underway on Tuesday, will also discuss the recommendations of the Permanent Representative Committee regarding the 2021 AU Budget, as well as progress that has been achieved thus far in the AU’s efforts to improve its financial management.

“Although the issue of the budget is a technical matter, it places huge political responsibilities not only on the AU Commission but on its membership. The chairperson of the AU Commission will provide an update on the budget situation of the organisation and its implications for the implementation of the priorities of the African Union,” said Pandor.

The implementation of the Peace Fund, the Minister said, is critical in the maintenance of peace and security on the continent.

“I have no doubt that the report by the High Representative on the Peace Fund will provide us with options and ways of sustaining the Fund going forward.”

Impact of COVID-19

The Minister said the African continent has lost more than 30 000 people due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more than 1.5 million have been infected, as of 12 October 2020.

The pandemic she said, has severely strained “our already weak public health systems to their limits”.

“The pandemic has also caused a devastating impact on our socio-economic landscape, thereby undermining the gains that we have made thus far. It came as no surprise therefore that the economic forecasts predicted that the continent will experience a recession this year due to the pandemic, for the first time in over two decades.

“These effects are felt by our globe and affect all our countries.”

The continent has worked together and developed a response that has “revealed an African resilience in unity that we should use for addressing our continents challenges.”

“The areas in which action is desirable have been starkly revealed by the pandemic and we should seize the opportunities to strengthen our systems and institutions to ensure we build the ability to withstand such emergencies in future,” said the Minister.

The two-day session, which is being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, concludes on Wednesday, 14 October 2020. –

MIL OSI Africa