AU Charters on Democracy, Elections and Governance AND on African Free Trade Area signed

27 Jul 2019 | Veneranda Langa
President Mnangagwa signs Charter

FOREIGN Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo has said Zimbabwe is in the process of aligning its foreign policy to the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 dubbed The Africa We Want and has since ratified AU charters to do with democracy and economic development. He appeared before the Kindness Paradza-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs where he revealed Zimbabwe recently ratified the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and the African Continental Free Trade Area to accelerate free trade.

ACDEG is an AU charter to promote the strengthening of good governance and democracy, good electoral systems and citizen participation in governance processes, as well as human rights. “We are still in the process of ratifying ACDEG and the joint African peer review mechanism is ongoing, and on the African Continental Free Trade Area, the aim is to create a single continental market for goods and services and to accelerate free movement and establish an African Union which will bring free economic activity,” Moyo said this week. “As part of Zimbabwe’s commitment to ACDEG, the 2018 elections were guided by this charter and the New Dispensation was open and invited all international
observer missions whose reports also said the elections were free and fair.”

ActionAid country director Joy Mabenge said President Emmerson Mnangagwa had shown a desire to implement ACDEG by signing it so that it can be ratified and domesticated. “We now need to be honest with ourselves and ensure the provisions in the charter are put into action. The issue is we need to look at how we will translate the paper into real life and to achieve social justice aspirations. Once ACDEG is domesticated, it needs to breathe fire into attainment of social justice,” Mabenge said.

He said the ActionAid social justice manifesto launched last July before the Zimbabwean general elections shaped discourse into issues stipulated in ACDEG. “After elections, there is need for servant leadership and observance of women’s rights and to promote gender responsive public services in areas such as education, health, food security, issues to do with land and access to land by women as well as respect to youth and children’s rights,” Mabenge said.

He said ACDEG must not only to be taken as an instrument for elections, but must also promote social justice. Mabenge said government and Parliament must provide for citizens’ participation in governance issues as ACDEG provides for those possibilities. “It is important for parliamentarians to also consult the people when they ratify such instruments as ACDEG, and civic society will also chip in to explain and simplify the charter to the people,” he said.

Mabenge said it was important for duty bearers to educate people on their rights as stipulated in the Constitution and charters that the country has acceded to.

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