The African Leadership Forum, an annual event hosted by H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania was held in Johannesburg  from the 24th – 25th of August, 2017.  This year, the event was co-convened by H.E. Mkapa and H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa. This marked the first time since the Forum’s inception in 2014 that the ALF, with the theme of  “Peace and Security for an Integrated, United and Sustainable Africa” was held outside of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The African Leadership Forum brings together Former Heads of State as well as leaders from all sectors across Africa to discuss pressing issues affecting Africa’s sustainable development.

Seven former African Heads of State were in attendance, including H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, who delivered the Keynote Address, H.E. Bakili Muluzi, former President of Malawi; H.E. Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia; H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania; and H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, former President of Somalia. The Forum was also attended by over 100 key African leaders and thinkers that are currently or had previously worked on issues of peace and security.

Peace and security in Africa is of great concern not only because of the fatal consequences that result from its absence but because much of Africa shall continue to be very poor without sustained peace and security. Further, to achieve the goals of effective integration, unity and sustainable development within and amongst African nations, it is fundamental that there is peace and security.

The dialogue sought to focus attention on the complex dynamics that have caused continuous and endless conflicts to rise and linger, with the aim of exchanging views on how to practically and realistically navigate through them for lasting peace.

In his welcoming remarks, H.E. Thabo Mbeki called on participants not only to focus on the problems, but to strive to find practical solutions that can assist to chart the way forward.

“Let’s have a lovely conversation,” said President Mbeki, “but let’s also have some outcomes; because we want to feed into some processes on the continent to address this challenge.”

In his keynote address, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo took participants through the history of peace and security on the continent and beyond. He outlined what in his view, are some of the causes of conflict and some recommendations for addressing this important challenge.

“I have seen that the dynamics of power and human beings insatiable urge to superintend others and disregard their feelings are at the heart of instability and conflicts in countries around Africa,” said President Obasanjo. He further attributed most of the conflicts that take place on the continent to poor leadership, inequity, and real and perceived injustice.

H.E. Obasanjo went on to underscore the importance of Africans proactively taking a lead role in addressing the peace and security issues the continent is facing.

“The real solution lies in Africa and among Africans. My view is that, to stimulate peace and engender security, we must creatively engage progressive-minded Africans in strategic and proactive management of our geo-political and economic space,” he stated.

He also emphasized the need to build the necessary capacity for Africans to be able to tackle these issues.

“We need to build a crop of leaders with the capacity and acumen to steer respective countries away from conflagration,” he said, “this crop of leaders must be complemented with the building of institutions that could nip potential conflicts in the bud.”

To take this forward, he suggested that the two hosting organisations, UONGOZI Institute and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, and similar institutions work together and separately in the pursuit of peace and security in Africa.

The Keynote Address was followed by a panel discussion with H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, H.E. Mohamed Monsef Marzouki; Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia; Prof. Funmi Olonisakin, Director of the African Leadership Centre, King’s college, London; and Mr. Francois Louceny Fall, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Central Africa.

Two further panel discussions were held on the day, one focused on ‘Moving towards inclusiveness,’ and the second on Good governance and the rule of law’.

The second and final day was kicked off with a presentation by H.E. Thabo Mbeki on ‘Africa’s position in the global peace and security architecture, with Hon. Sydney Sekeramayi, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Defence as the respondent. The presentation was followed by two break-away sessions on the international factors shaping African peace and security responses and aligning national, continental and international peace and security frameworks.

WATCH the plenary session of the African Leadership Forum 2017 as livestreamed on SABC Digital News below: