Takunda Maodza in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa—
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe pledged 300 head of cattle to the African Union Foundation during a fundraising dinner held here on Saturday. The dinner was meant to raise money to capacitate the AU Foundation. In Zimbabwe, a fully fattened beast costs approximately $1,000. The AU and Sadc chairman dissuaded Africa from over reliance on external partners whose donations come with strings attached.
President Mugabe is in South Africa attending the 25th African Union Summit underway in Sandton.
The summit started on Wednesday last week and ends tomorrow.
Several African leaders who attended the dinner collectively pledged millions of dollars for the foundation during the dinner.
“Sorry, I did not come with my wife. She went to see our daughter…When she comes, I will persuade her that from the lots of cattle we have, we can contribute some 300 so that they can be sold as our own contribution to start pledges in our country.”
President Mugabe, who kept delegates in stitches with jokes, said it was about time Africa depended on itself.
“There is need for Africa to spearhead the process of mobilising domestic resources so as to finance its programmes and institutions as part of continental self-reliance.
“We should desist from relying on partners in funding our flagship projects and therefore we cannot continue to give birth to projects for others to finance. I acknowledge, yes, that as we implement Agenda 2063, we have to cooperate with partners and this is the reason why we have distinguished representatives from the private sector among us tonight. The private sector’s contribution to agenda 2063 is critical.
“However, if we beg for every project, the partners will remind us of the painful truth that ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune,’” he said.
The African Union Foundation is a brainchild of African Heads of State and Government.
President Mugabe narrated to delegates how the idea of the AU Foundation came about.
“Perhaps at this stage, it would be important to explain the idea behind the decision by Heads of State and Government of our Union to create the African Union Foundation. As we prepared to launch the Solemn Declaration in 2013, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of OAU/AU and to adopt our development framework Agenda 2063, it was felt necessary to predicate those efforts under a financing mechanism.
“So the fund was created deliberately for the purposes of collaborating with the private sector, philanthropists, individuals, and the Diaspora to solicit donations and seek voluntary contributions towards the financing of Africa’s development priorities in pursuit of agenda 2063,” he said.
The foundation seeks the development of skills and human resources on the continent, women empowerment and gender equality and to promote integration and management of diversity, youth development and entrepreneurship, advocacy and support for the African Union.
President Mugabe thanked the African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and her team for successfully organising the fundraising dinner.
“Our presence here demonstrates our collective commitment towards the funding of our flagship projects in pursuit of the ideals of our forefathers. In this regard, it is imperative for us to build confidence in ourselves in our quest to drive our own destiny in line with our vision of an integrated, people centred and prosperous Africa at peace with itself and taking its rightful place in the world,” he said.
“This year we celebrate the Year of Women Empowerment towards Agenda 2063. As African leaders, we recognise that economic empowerment of women is one of the key drivers to achieving the continent’s development agenda as clearly outlined in Agenda 2063. We are further cognisant of the fact that access to financial services such as savings, insurance and credit, can support women’s ability to move out of poverty.”