Full Speech of the AUC Chairperson speech, 15 October 2012

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15 October 2012
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
African Union Commission (AUC)

Address by the African Union Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday 15 October 2012

Your Excellency, Dr Thomas Boni Yayi, Chairperson of the African Union, President of the Republic of Benin

Your Excellency Ato Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Dr Jean Ping, Outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission

Deputy Chairperson of the Commission

Members of the AU Commission and Staff

Members of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC)

Dr Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa

Members of the Diplomatic Corps in Addis Ababa

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

I stand before you today as a humble servant of the African continent and its people, ready - together with the newly elected Commissioners - to join the hundreds of African Union Commission staff, who have held the banner of the African Union flying high.

This position has been held by an illustrious list of selfless and dedicated Africans who have had the privilege and honour of leading the Secretariat and Commission of our pre-eminent continental organisation, first the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and now the African Union (AU).

While I am filled with humility and honour that I have been elected into this position, the magnitude of the task does not escape me. Let me therefore say from the onset that I expect to stand on the shoulders of the giants that preceded me, working together with member states and other partners to create a prosperous Africa, which is at peace with itself and the world.

In this regard I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the current Chair of the African Union who is, not only here amongst us today, but who has given me his full support and encouragement since my election – the President of Benin, His Excellency, Dr Thomas Boni Yayi.

We are honoured to have our Host, Ethiopian Prime Minister, His Excellency Ato Hailemariam Dessalegn with us. We wish to convey best wishes to him as he discharges the duties of the Office of Prime Minister of this great country, building a developmental state on the foundations of an ancient and progressive civilisation.

At this moment, I also wish to pay tribute to one of Africa’s great sons, a visionary and firm proponent of the renaissance of the continent, the late Prime Minister Ato Meles Zenawi, who made such a significant contribution to Ethiopia, Africa and humanity as a whole.

I also want to acknowledge the achievements and efforts of my predecessor and outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr Jean Ping. Mon frère, merci. Thank you Dr Ping for working tirelessly these past four and a half years to build on the work of those who have come before us, such as President Alpha Konare and others, including the founders of our organisation.

Through your commitment and dedication during your term of service, the African Union Commission has made many strides and I will therefore build on the foundation that you have laid. Merci mon frère.

Of course paying tribute to the outgoing chair of the Commission goes hand in hand with our appreciation to the rest of the Commissioners, who worked with him, because all of us are as good as our teams. Thank you to all the commissioners and the staff, for the achievements and progress.

Your Excellencies

The eve of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Union offers us an opportunity to take stock of where we have come from and where we are today, in order to assist us to plan for the journey ahead.

At this point I would like to quote from former President Mandela in his Long walk to freedom: "I have walked a long road to freedom. I tried not to falter, I have missed steps along the way, but I have discovered the secret that after climbing the Great Hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I’ve taken a moment to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me. To look at the distance I’ve come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities and I dare not linger. For my long walk is not ended." ng walk is not ended."