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AU Committee to move to Lesotho by year end: Tšolo

Limpho Sello

THE African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) African Union (AU) will move from Ethiopia to its new headquarters in Lesotho before the end of the year, Acting Social Development minister, Temeki Tšolo, has said.

In 2016, Lesotho won its bid to host the ACERWC) head of other African countries such as Botswana and Burkina Faso. The committee is mandated with ensuring the protection of the rights of children through formulating principles and rules among other roles. The then Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing said in 2016 that by headquartering ACERWC, Lesotho would also benefit in terms of tourism, job creation and infrastructure development.

“The time for Lesotho to benefit is now. Other countries like Kenya, which host two headquarters of African Union agencies, are already reaping the fruits of their labour. We need to benefit as well,” Mr Metsing said.

“Being a host country boosts our tourism sector as the staff members’ families would visit our country. Furthermore, every time this committee hosts meetings and conferences, more people would be visiting our country and also want to come back as tourists in the near future.

“There will also be infrastructure development as we will need to construct the headquarters building. Consequently, the construction process will create jobs for locals,” added Mr Metsing.

But two years on, the ACERWC is still to relocate to Lesotho, something Mr Tšolo says will definitely happen by December 2019.

He said although the ACERWC would have relocated by year end, the logistical arrangements were such that the AU flag will only be hoisted at the AU agency’s new headquarters in Maseru on 2 January 2020 with the official opening at the end of January 2020.

Speaking at a recent press conference in Maseru, Mr Tšolo said the decision to move the ACERWC was reached at the AU’s session in March 2011.

“After Lesotho won the bid to host the ACERWC in 2017, the activities that have been going throughout 2018 and 2019 have focused on different aspects to facilitate the hosting of the ACERWC. Office and residential space, communication and many other things had to be considered before the relocation.

“By early October 2019, there will be the signing of the host agreement to enable the ACERWC to move to Lesotho by December 2019,” Mr Tšolo said.

He subsequently told the Sunday Express that Lesotho would benefit from hosting the ACERWC secretariat through expert advice on “how a child should be cared for”.

“They will guide us on how we can amend our laws and structure them to enhance the protection of children.”

In addition, Mr Tšolo said Lesotho’s economy will benefit from having so many visitors from different countries coming to access the ACERWC’s services.

The news about the impending relocation of the ACERWC come against the background of recent statements by some AU officials who recently told the Sunday Express that all that was left was the finalisation of budget issues before the ACERWC relocates to Lesotho.

The officials said this in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the sidelines of a workshop to familiarize journalists with the workings of the AU and its various specialised committees and organs.

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