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President Mugabe has donated $1 million to the African Union

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President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe has donated $1 million to the African Union, fulfilling a pledge made he made two years ago while serving as the chairman of the pan-African body.

President Mugabe presented the check during the opening ceremony of the 29th summit of the AU, currently ongoing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The president had originally pledged 300 cattle for the African Union Foundation, but the money received on Monday was from the auctioning off of thousands of cattle from farmers from across Zimbabwe, according to the nation’s minister for Foreign Affairs, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi. The exact number of cattle has not been disclosed.

“As an African and a farmer, the donation of cattle came naturally to me, given that our continent is rich in cattle and cattle are held as a store of wealth,” said President Mugabe.

While the very public gesture seems ill-timed, on account of the biting cash crunch afflicting Zimbabwe, whose dollarized economy has run out of US dollars and is trudging along with unpopular bond notes, it does serve to highlight the perpetual funding problems afflicting the AU.

If it is true that he who pays the piper calls the tune, then the direction of the AU is determined by non-AU members.

Being sustainably self-financing is a goal the AU is yet to achieve, with more than half its budget paid for by international partners.

In its 2016 budget, 59.25% of the funding came from these international partners, such as China and the USA.

Within the bloc, the bulk of the funding has traditionally come from five nations, namely, South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Libya; however, even securing funding from those AU nations with smaller financial obligations has been challenging, with countries failing to pay up or making their payments late.

Among its alternative financing models, the AU has embraced a 0.2% levy to be charged on certain imports, which the money so obtained by member states submitted at a later point to the AU coffers.