Monthly Archives: January 2016

President salutes Professor Vilakazi

President Jacob Zuma has extended condolences on the passing of Professor Herbert Vilakazi.

The Presidency on Friday said Vilakazi was a renowned sociologist and one of the most insightful intellectuals in the country.

“We deeply mourn his passing and wish to convey our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues. May his soul rest in peace,” said President Zuma.



ADDIS ABABA, The Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, five other entrepreneurs and human rights campaigners have written to the African Union to use upcoming summit to sort out conflicts in South Sudan and Burundi, as a matter of urgency.

In an open letter to the African Union, the Sudanese-British philanthropist and his colleagues said the meeting starting on January 30 should be “both opportunity and a responsibility to respond to these crises.”

“This is a grave test of AU credibility, and of the continent’s ability to solve its own problems,” they wrote on Wednesday.

“Failure to act now would dent the reputation of the institution and those at its helm, and constitute a betrayal of the ordinary civilians in both countries whose lives are gravely affected by continuing violence and a lack of accountability.”

The AU will hold the 26th Ordinary Session of the AU general Assembly for heads of State and government this Saturday under the theme “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women.”

But it comes amid rising tensions in Burundi where about 400 people have been killed and 230,000 displaced in a conflict following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for third term.

It also comes at a time when South Sudanese leaders have failed to agree on a transitional government as stated in a peace agreement signed last August.

President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar have disagreed over the 28 new states Kiir created last December.

As is tradition, a report on the crises in Africa prepared by the Peace and Security Council, AU’s top organ charged with security matters, will be tabled before the leaders during the AU’s 26th Ordinary Summit.

On Wednesday, the entrepreneurs said: “The people of Africa and the world are watching closely. We urge you to fulfill their trust, and act in the interests of the continent, the institution that you serve, and of your fellow Africans.”

This is the first time Mo Ibrahim, the founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which publishes annual governance rankings of African countries, is calling on the AU to make a move on the crises.

The letter publicised on Wednesday was also signed by South African, Jay Naidoo, who chairs the Board of and the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Uganda’s Victor Ochen, the Director of African Youth Initiative Network and 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

Others are Dr Chidi Odinkalu, the Chair of the Governing Council of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission, Ms Navi Pillay South Africa’s former Rwanda Tribunal (ICTR) judge and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mr Ashish J Thakkar, founder of the Mara Group.

The group charged that despite various pronouncements by the AU on the two countries, the implementation has been slow, leading to more human suffering.

In Burundi, the AU Peace and Security Council endorsed the deployment of 5,000 troops to protect civilians back in December.

But Bujumbura rejected the decision calling the troops an invasion force. The AU has spent most of January trying to convince Burundi to allow the peacekeeping forces.

In South Sudan, the campaigners argued there has been no hybrid court to prosecute violence perpetrators, four months after the peace agreement was signed.

“It is critical that the AU’s decisions on Burundi and South Sudan are implemented immediately, in order to fulfill our collective commitment to prevent crimes against humanity? and assist those at risk of grave harm.

“Vested interests and political allegiances cannot be allowed to prevail,” they said.

They called on the AU to use “all diplomatic means and political leverage” to convince Burundi to allow the troops in.



ADDIS ABABA, Africa is making progress in women empowerment with African Union (AU) member states slowly bringing more women on board in traditionally male dominated sectors, according to the AU Commission for Political Affairs.

The AU is celebrating the fact that the continent is leading the world in the number of women parliamentarians as out of 37 African countries with the highest number of women legislators, 16 are from Africa.

The continental body has dedicated 2016 to Women’s Empowerment and the theme for this year’s annual summit of AU Heads of State and Government this week is “Year of Human Rights with a Special Focus on the Rights of Women”.

The continental body is pushing ahead with gender parity, starting at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa. AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has implemented a 50-50 representation with five of its 10 Commissioners now led by women and slowly more women are being included.

The Head of the AU Commission for Political Affairs, Dr Aisha Abdullhahi, says: ”The AU currently has the highest number of women in peacekeeping forces and the highest number of women in political decision-making bodies globally.

“It is gratifying to indicate that, there are currently 37 countries in the world that have at least 30 per cent of women representation in their parliaments and 16 of these countries are in Africa. Rwanda is currently the leading country with the highest number of women in parliament worldwide.”

She also praised the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sub-region, commending the member countries for establishing ministries and parastatals to promote and protect women’s rights.

”Some of the above developments on gender transformation had also been replicated at the sub-regional level leading to the evolution of policies such as the SADC Women’s Rights Protocol. Further there are impressive numbers of AU member state that have toed the above continental and sub-regional pragmatic paths,” she notes.

“South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius, Malawi, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Cape Verde and Madagascar are doing pretty well and making remarkable progress in terms of respect of women’s rights, women’s access to land and credit facilities, promotion of equal access to education for male and female child. At the political front our continent takes the lead,” adds Dr Abdullahi.



ADDIS ANANA, Africa should make paradigm shift in its education and training system for the implementation of Agenda 2063, the continent’s 50-year development blueprint, says the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga.

Briefing the media here Thursday on the final draft of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25), he said it was imperative to put in place a qualitative education and training system which focuses on African core values for the creation of new African citizens capable of becoming effective as change agents for sustainable development.

He pointed out the need for liberating education from its colonial legacy to promote the achievement of the African vision and ambitions aligned with Agenda 2063.

The commissioner said the pillars for the implementation of the strategy included strong political commitment, a peaceful environment, gender equity, domestic resource mobilization, and strong institutional capacity.

Dr. Ikounga underlined the importance of expanding education infrastructure to make quality education accessible by creating a student-friendly environment at schools.

The dissemination of scientific and cultural knowledge focused on curricula for science, mathematics and information communication technology (ICT) should be given priority, according to the commissioner.

He also stressed the need for expansion of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) opportunities in Africa, both at secondary and tertiary levels, over the next ten years.

Campaigns to eradicate illiteracy across the continent, revitalization of teaching staff, building the capacity of educational leadership and strengthening the coalition of stakeholders are cross-cutting strategic intervention areas in the coming decade, he added.

He called on partners to provide meaningful and consistent support for the implementation of the ambitious programmes embedded in CESA 16-25 which is expected to be endorsed by African leaders who hold their annual summit here this weekend.