Pretoria prepares for first African Union summit

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- Preparations are in full gear for South Africa's hosting of the inaugural summit of the African Union (AU) next July.
An estimated 6,000 delegates, including heads of state and government from more than 50 African countries, are expected to attend the summit, which will be opened by President Thabo Mbeki.
There is also likely to be a significant number of high-profile guests from countries such as the United States, the European Union, China and Japan.
The summit will witness the 53-nation Organisation of African Unity (OAU) become the African Union.
The brainchild of Libyan leader, Moammar Kadhafi, the AU is based on the model of the European Union.
It will eventually comprise an executive, a central bank, monetary fund, parliament and court of justice.
"Due to the calibre of African leaders expected at this summit, its success is of vital importance to us.
The summit will possibly bear more significance to us than CHOGM, NAM and the World Conference Against Racism," said Alec Gilbert, chief executive of the International Convention Centre, host of the event.
The event imposes greater responsibility on South Africa to ensure a successful mobilisation campaign behind the African Union, the government notes.
Accordingly, Pretoria is developing and overseeing the mobilisation campaign behind the African Union.
It begins with a national launch in the Free State led by Mbeki, and would involve workshops for parliamentarians and provincial legislatures, a continental expert meeting as well as mobilisation of the diplomatic corps.
"It is our firm conviction that there exists a symbiotic relationship between building and consolidating our continental organisation, the AU and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)," said Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa.
In this regard, the government will be mobilising a broad spectrum of the population in an attempt to popularise both the AU and NEPAD, he said.
The government has already produced and distributed thousands of AU and NEPAD pamphlets in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Sotho to schools throughout the country via the provincial education departments.
An in-depth booklet explaining the Constitutive Act of the AU and NEPAD is also being translated into Zulu, Sotho and Afrikaans for distribution throughout the country.
"Clearly, the success of NEPAD and the AU would only be guaranteed if all the people of Africa see themselves as part of the process of project and programme implementation, " Mamoepa told PANA.
"Let us join hands in the struggle for the regeneration of our continent in a true and equal partnership with our fellow citizens of the global community," Mamoepa added.

07 march 2002 09:43:00

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