By AARON CHIYANZO
THE African Union Bureau of Heads of States has called on creditor nations and multilateral institutions to immediately suspend interest payments for Africa on its external public and private debt to enable countries create fiscal space to respond to the devastating effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
They also called on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to review their current disbursement policies to display flexibility and speed including raising the availability of the IMF special drawing rights (SDR).
The bureau comprises leaders from South Africa, Egypt, Congo DRC, Kenya and Mali.
Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, Emmanuel Mwamba stated that the Communique of the leaders of the AU Bureau was issued after they held the latest tele-conferencing meeting on April 3rd 2020 to discuss Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Mwamba said the leaders called for a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa and for concrete support as pledged by the G20 and other international partners.
He said the communique also called for the immediate lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe and Sudan.
“The communique stated that the Bureau has also created the Ministerial Coordination Committees of the African Union’s Response to COVID-19 on Transport and Finance. This followed the creation of the ministerial one on Health,” said Mr Mwamba.
Mr Mwamba said in the communique, the Bureau called for member states to have equal access to COVID-19 ventilators, test kits, masks and personal protective equipment(PPE) and vaccines when available.
He said the leaders expressed satisfaction that the African Union COVID-19 Response Fund established on March 26 2020 had already raised seed funds amounting to US$17million and thanked China for its support.
The tele-conferencing meeting was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa (Chairperson of the African Union), President Abdel Fattah al Sisi (Arab Republic of Egypt), President Ibrahim Keita(Mali), President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and President Felix Tshisekedi (DRC).
Others included: President Paul Kagame( Rwanda), Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed,(Ethiopia), President Macky Sall (Senegal), President Emerson Munangagwa (Zimbabwe) and President Emmanuel Macron (France).
The Bureau also received special reports from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, (Director WHO) and Dr. John Nkengason g(Director- African Center for Disease Control and Prevention CDC).
The leaders also thanked the Jack Ma Foundation, the World Food Programme (WFP), CDC and Prime Minister Abiy for delivering one million diagnostic test kits, six million masks, and personal protective kits to all African Union member states.
This is according to a statement issued by first secretary press and tourism at the Zambian embassy in Ethiopia, Inutu Mwanza.
By AARON CHIYANZO