Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Mugabe’s $1m AU donation stirs controversy

By Tendai Kamhungira and Tarisai Machakaire

President Robert Mugabe is sharing Zimbabwe’s wealth by donating $1 million to the African Union (AU), but his goodwill is being slammed by opposition parties who believe the donation showed misplaced priorities.

The uproar comes after Mugabe presented a $1 million cheque to the AU during the official opening of the 29th Ordinary Session of the AU heads of State and government summit in Addis Ababa this week.

The uproar comes after Mugabe presented a $1 million cheque to the AU during the official opening of the 29th Ordinary Session of the AU heads of State and government summit in Addis Ababa this week.

Mugabe said the money was raised from the 2015 cattle donation he pledged towards capacitating the African Union Foundation.

“I am aware that this humble gesture on our part has no universal application, but it demonstrates what is possible when we apply our minds to the most urgent task before us, of finding alternative and innovative ways of funding our union, in particular our Agenda 2063,” Mugabe told the assembly.

“As I have said before in this assembly, unless and until we can fund our own programmes, the African Union will not be truly our own.”

While Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba and Information minister Chris Mushowe were unreachable for comment, the ruling party yesterday defended the donation and said that opposition political parties were grossly misguided.

“They don’t know what they are talking about,” Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo told the Daily News yesterday.

“Perhaps they would have been happier if the donation was given the European Union.”

The European Union has a travel ban on the veteran leader. Mugabe accuses Western countries of sabotaging Zimbabwe’s economy through sanctions imposed to punish him and top ruling party officials for alleged rights abuses and election fraud.

Mugabe, 93, is viewed by many in Africa as an independence hero. But critics say he has run the country into the ground through mismanagement of its once thriving economy, money printing and the redistribution of critical commercial farms to landless blacks with little or no experience in operating them.

Khaya-Moyo said: “Zimbabwe is a proud member of the African Union and we shall do more to strengthen and defend Africa from external forces.”

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said Mugabe’s $1 million donation to the AU “is an act of absurdity and misplaced priorities.”

“While at least 90 percent of Zimbabweans are wallowing in abject poverty and penury, Mugabe has got the temerity to donate $1 million to the AU. What type of errant nonsense is this?” Gutu said.

“This is a clear case of misplaced priorities. That money could have been better used to provide essential drugs and medicines for our public hospitals and clinics which are presently severely under-funded and incapacitated.”

Gutu said that Mugabe’s donation to the AU is weird and sinister.

“Remember, there are elections to be held in Zimbabwe in 2018. Mugabe and his faction-infested and bankrupt Zanu PF regime are desperate to rig these elections so that they can cling onto power.

“This purported donation to the AU is actually a bribe that is meant to soften the response of the AU in the event that next year’s elections are rigged. Mugabe hardly does anything without harbouring an ulterior motive. You can only trust him at your own peril,” Gutu said.

The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said Mugabe should proffer a convincing explanation to the donation that he made to the AU.

“We are perplexed by the Mugabe donation given the state of affairs in the country,” the party’s spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said.

“The Zanu PF leader is now running the country like his own tuck shop forgetting that Zimbabweans are wailing for a better life every day.

“Zanu PF is very sure of its demise in 2018 and will do everything to please the country’s friends. We are monitoring their behaviour at the eleventh hour.

“They have accelerated their looting speed because of time.”

Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Jacob Mafume said that it is ironic that at a time that the government is struggling to pay civil servants their 2016 bonuses, Mugabe is making such a donation.

“(It is) laughable in its futility as all countries in Africa in this Internet age know that we do not have a currency. (It is also) tragic in the sense that someone in a government hospital died because of lack of drugs,” Mafume said, adding that women were giving birth at home because of lack of transport to take them to hospitals. Daily News