President Jacob Zuma has today, 30 January 2018, arrived back in South Africa from a successful visit to Addis Ababa, in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, where he led the South African Government delegation to the 30th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), which met from 28-29 January 2017 under the theme: "Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation".
The Summit took a number of important decisions that demonstrated the readiness of AU member states to fully implement the commitments made in the continental organisation's flagship programme, Agenda 2063, relating to, amongst other things, the sustenance of peace and security; free movement of people, goods and services; and improving political and democratic governance on the continent .
On 29 January 2017, the AU leaders launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). The SAATM, of which South Africa is a signatory, provides for the full liberalization of market access between African states, free exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership and full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities.
President Zuma said: "It is gratifying that the continent is moving ahead with the implementation of Agenda 2063, and it is vital that we are taking decisions that have a direct impact on the lives of the people of the continent. We are, in a very practical manner, removing barriers to trade, investment and tourism".
The Summit elected President Paul Kagame of Rwanda as Chair of the AU for the year 2018, taking over from President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea. President Zuma congratulated President Kagame and assured him of South Africa's readiness to work with him as he steers the AU. South Africa was elected to serve as one of the Vice Chairs of the Bureau of the AU, representing the Southern African region. The other member states of the Bureau are Libya (North Africa), Republic of Congo (Central Africa) and the Republic of Guinea (West Africa).
On the state of peace and security on the continent, the Summit discussed the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Western Sahara. The Summit noted that the continent remains largely peaceful and that the situations in the countries under discussion required more concerted efforts from the AU and its member states geared towards sustainable peace and stability within the framework of Agenda 2063, in particular the goal to "silence the guns by the year 2020".
The Summit emphasised the need for continuous engagement and cooperation between the AU and the United Nations (UN). In this regard, the Summit re-appointed President Zuma to continue his role of championing this initiative. President Zuma met the Secretary General of the UN, Mr Antonio Guterres, on the margins of the Summit. The two leaders re-committed themselves to fostering closer cooperation between the AU and the UN.
President Zuma said he was pleased to see the AU embracing the decision by South Africa to mark the centenary of South Africa's first post-apartheid President, Tata Nelson Mandela. "We were pleased to see the warmth with which our fellow Africans received the message about commemorating Madiba's centenary. This once again shows that Africa is ready to preserve Madiba's legacy of pan-African solidarity as well as peace and reconciliation".