The State of the Union (SOTU) Coalition in collaboration with the Pan African Citizen’s Network (PACIN) and the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) organized the 8th Citizens Continental Conference (CCC). The Conference held from the 4th – 6th of February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was organized on the margins of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the meeting of the Heads of States and Government of the African Union (AU).
The 8th CCC afforded SOTU a platform to advance advocacy engagement of the Coalition, strategically repositioning the Coalition towards developing key messages to the AU during the 32nd Summit. The CCC further provided a platform for debate and dialogue, and promotion of interface for SOTU to contribute to engaging African citizens in decision-making processes at the continental level.
A meeting of the Coalition members held on the margins of the 8th CCC. The meeting had in attendance the following members:
- Okeke Anya, CGT Chair.
- Alexis Nkruziza, Member CGT.
- Corlet Letlojane, HURISA, South Africa.
- Paula Monjane, Moazambique
- Cyrille Roalnde Bechon, Cameroun.
The meeting also had in attendance:
- Louisa Kwapata: Eye for Development, National Platform member from Malawi;
- Gisele Fifi Uwineza, SOTU Club, Rwanda, and
- Augustine Erameh, Secretariat Support.
The meeting was declared open by Okeke Anya, Chair of the Coalition Governance Team (CGT) who in his remarks appreciated the resilience and commitment of members of the SOTU. He briefed the gathering on the developments made so far from the end of the project to include:
- Registration of SOTU in Nigeria: SOTU has been registered as the African Initiative for Citizen’s Engagement and Development (AICED). The name was informed by constraints in registration requirements of the regulatory body with the mandate for registering all legal entities which he observed also played out in the attempts to also register the organization in Kenya.
- Provision of Support Services to the Secretariat: CISLAC was currently providing support to host the Secretariat and ensure it is fully functional and operational since SOTU gained legal status.
- Advancing Visibility to SOTU: A consultant has been engaged to manage the internet presence (website, Facebook and Twitter accounts) and visibility materials have been developed which were also shared during the 8th Additionally, through a project implemented by CISLAC titled “Towards Enforcement of Africa’s Anti-Corruption Commitments (TEA-CAC)”, the SOTU brand was given extensive recognition and promotion as the project was in line with the SOTU goal.
Remarks by Paula Monjane and Alexis Nkruziza appreciated the spirit of the SOTU family, acknowledging the challenges of sustainability faced by institutions. They noted that the leadership of the CGT had done extremely well in weathering the storm and encouraged all members to contribute in whatever means possible within respective institutional constraints to promote the SOTU brand.
Following extensive deliberations, members:
- Commended the current leadership and members for sustaining the SOTU spirit and Pan African agenda.
- Encouraged Coalition members to deliberately mainstream SOTU as a brand and its objectives at respective country levels, working at all possible times to ensure project development and implementation stages carry the SOTU brand.
- Requested respective member organizations to submit reports of work done in light of 2 above to Secretariat.
- Reiterated the need for members to also share information and opportunities with the Secretariat for pursuing grants.
- Urged members to support the Secretariat towards revamping the “My African Union, My Voice” Campaign. In this regard, Secretariat will further support the consultant to update the SOTU website, and redesign the country logos developed during the Campaign to reflect the theme of the AU Year for 2019.
- Considered the option of working electronically, using web-based options to organize meetings and strategically reposition the Coalition.
Meeting with the Regional Desk Officer – Peace Movement, CIDO | Office of Chairperson | African Union Commission.
On the 7th of February 2019, a SOTU delegation paid a scheduled visit to the William Carew, the Regional Desk Officer – Peace Movement, CIDO | Office of Chairperson | African Union Commission. The delegation comprised Alexis Nkruziza, Member CGT, Cyrille Roalnde Bechon, Cameroun, Paula Monjane, Gisele Fifi Uwineza, and Austin Erameh.
The meeting which was the maiden meeting between SOTU and the AU CIDO office afforded SOTU the opportunity to commence engagement with the CIDO mechanism of the AU which the Desk Officer informed also played host to the AU ECOSOCC Secretariat. According to him, this formed the background of misconception for CIDO and the ECOSOSCC.
The outcomes of the meetings included:
- That members establish linkages with national representatives
- SOTU members actively engage at the country level, looking towards working through a CBO where the establish criteria of funding limitations were a hindrance to membership of the ECOSOSCC.
- Be on the lookout for the new Secretariat of the ECOSOSCC to be established in Zambia.
Training on Understanding The African Union (AU)
7th February 2019
On the 7th of February 2019, SOTU participated on a Training organized by the Pan African Office of Oxfam. The 3 objectives of the training were to:
- Provide an Understanding of the AU, the Reforms and the Implications on Citizen Engagement;
- Enhance capabilities of CSO Leaders and Activists to Engage with the AU;
- Identify opportunities for enhanced coordination within civil society, and
- Clarify the linkages between Policy Formulation and Implementation at the National Level.
The workshop provided extensive insights for SOTU members to engage with the AU and relevant organs and mechanisms.