President Emmerson Mnangagwa attended his maiden African Union (AU) Summit since becoming the Zimbabwean leader in November  last year, and pledged to the continental body that he will ensure the legacy of former President Robert Mugabe is preserved.

The 30th AU Summit was officially opened this afternoon at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

President Mnangangwa who is accompanied by the First Lady, Cde Auxillia Mnangagwa, five cabinet ministers and other senior government officials, addressed the assembly during the official opening session.

“May I inform this august chamber that former president, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe is safe and secure, and it is my duty as leader of the current administration in Zimbabwe to preserve his legacy as my founding father of my country,” said Cde Mnangagwa.

The AU respects principles of good neighbourliness, non-interference in internal disputes and regional cooperation, and Cde Mnangagwa thanked the SADC region and the continent as a whole for giving Zimbabwe a chance to solve its internal challenges without outside interference.

“The transition was very peaceful and we are happy that we faced challenges as a nation and managed to resolve them. We wish to thank SADC and the whole continent,” he said.

The Zimbabwean leader also thanked Ethiopia for its warm reception and hospitality, saying the Zimbabwean delegation is appreciative of the warm welcome.

During the opening session, the keynote address was delivered by outgoing AU Chairman, President Alpha Conde of Guinea, whose one year mandate expired on the eve of the 30th AU Summit.

The incoming Chairperson of the AU, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda delivered his acceptance and then introduced the theme of the summit: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Mr Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres delivered a solidarity message and commended progress registered under the UN-AU Framework on Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security.

President of Palestine and Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Mr Mahmoud Abbas and Mr Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States also delivered solidarity messages.

Newly elected presidents, Mr Joao Lourenco of Angola and Liberia’s former football star, George Weah were also given time to address the AU Assembly.

The official opening of the AU Summit also saw the election of the new Bureau of the Assembly of the AU and the presentation of prizes for winners of the AU Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Awards 2017.