The DA welcomes President Ramaphosa’s appointment as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) for the year 2020. While only a one year term, this provides South Africa with a leadership opportunity to actively promote democracy and build peace and stability on the continent. The AU has degenerated into a protectionist body of liberation movements that continues to turn a blind eye to gross human rights violations in Africa. It will be incumbent on President Ramaphosa to change this.
Nowhere is this leadership required more than in Zimbabwe. There is a crisis of political legitimacy following last year’s election results, leading to deteriorating economic conditions and a government imposing military rule on its own citizens. To date more than a dozen people have been killed by the Zimbabwean government. Quiet diplomacy is no longer an option. Our neighbours need immediate change and as AU Chairperson elect, President Ramaphosa has an opportunity to get stuff done.
There are a number of crisis where liberation movements have taken power and used it against their system, including against the President of the United Party for National Development (UNPD), Hakainde Hichilema, who Zambian President, Edgar Lungu has allegedly tried to assassinate.
In addition to this, South Africa holds a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the term 2019 – 2020. This is yet another opportunity for President Ramaphosa to use our position on the UNSC to advance liberal democratic values and stand up for justice, freedom and human rights. The ANC government’s voting record at the UN tells a worrying story of siding with dictators and thug-governments. This must change.
During my reply to the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), I told President Ramaphosa that I will support him if he does what is right and acts in the interests of South Africa. As the Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Chairperson of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), I will support the President’s efforts if he does what is right in our nation, our region and our continent.
The President now has national and regional power to advance democratic change in Africa. It is his duty to wield it to bring peace and stability in the region. I trust that he will heed this call to action.