Reforms to restructure the African Union (AU) and place it on the road to becoming financially independent have breathed new life into the organisation, says President Jacob Zuma.
The president was speaking following key decisions approved by African leaders at a summit in Addis Ababa in January.
“You feel there is a new breeze that has come in the manner that we are going to run this organisation,” said Zuma speaking on the sidelines of the AU’s 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government African Leaders.
At a retreat attended by African leaders before the start of the summit on January 22, Rwandan President Paul Kagame presented a report he’d been instructed to draft on how to restructure the organisation.
Among the proposals discussed was how to move the organisation towards becoming financially independent. At present the AU derives about 70 percent of its budget from outside funders, such as the EU and the World Bank.
“There’s been a very strong feeling that we need to raise money on our own so that we can do what we want. Because at times those who give money tend to, in a sense, direct you to where they want their money to be used,” said President Zuma.
A decision was taken at the Kigali summit last year that the AU will implement a 0.2 percent levy on all eligible imported goods to the continent to finance the organisation.
In addition leaders have now agreed on stronger governance procedures to ensure the effective implementation of decisions.
“There has been no system that says that if decisions are taken, this is the route they take, this is what will happen, these are the timeframes,” said Zuma.
He said a decision was taken at the summit to implement the various proposals within the next two to six years. This, he pointed out, indicates the willingness of the organisation to transform and “do things differently”.