57 YEARS AFTER THE FORMATION OF THE OAU THE SUCCESSOR AFRICAN UNION MEMBER-STATES ARE BATTLING A PANDEMIC WHICH HAS POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS
May 25 represents the 57th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), later renamed the African Union (AU) in 2002.
By Abayomi Azikiwe
This year the continental organization of 55 member-states with numerous auxiliaries and agencies addressing issues related to peace and security, economic development, finance, gender equality, healthcare, among others, is struggling against the advent of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) which has become a pandemic threatening the stability and well-being of Africa’s 1.2 billion people.
The theme for Africa Day (Africa Liberation Day) 2020 is “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, which undoubtedly is a worthy focus considering the degree to which national reconciliation and mutual cooperation between AU member-states is essential for qualitative growth and societal advancement. These guns to be silenced often have political and economic interests behind them that are at variance with the interests of the workers, farmers and youth making up the majority within Africa.
AU Peace and Security Commission Director H.E. Smail Chergui of Algeria is leading the agency in seeking solutions to questions of conflict prevention and early warning, crisis management, defense and security, along with peace support operations. In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic these issues are of utmost importance in order to provide the healthcare workers the space needed to carry out testing and treatment related to the virus as well as a host of other ailments impacting AU member-states.
Most African governments have imposed lockdowns and other measures designed to halt the spread of the pandemic. Countries such as Egypt, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa are continuing to impose restrictions on movement both within and outside of their territories. COVID-19 cases are being confirmed in significant numbers in South Africa and Egypt. However, overall Africa has not experienced the level of widespread outbreaks witnessed in Europe, the United States and in various Latin American states.
The African Center for Disease Control (ACDC), an affiliate agency of the AU, is charged with monitoring the health status of member-states. Its website says that:
“Africa CDC strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programs….. Established in January 2016 by the 26th Ordinary Assembly of Heads of State and Government and officially launched in January 2017, Africa CDC is guided by the principles of leadership, credibility, ownership, delegated authority, timely dissemination of information, and transparency in carrying out its day-to-day activities. The institution serves as a platform for Member States to share and exchange knowledge and lessons from public health interventions….”