By John Chimunhu|
Some major western donors are considering cutting funding to the African Union to protest president Robert Mugabe’s appointment to lead the continental body for a year.
Mugabe is under Western sanctions for waging a brutal campaign of violence, murder and destruction against political opponents at home.
The traditional donors’ round, a fundraising event that usually accompanies AU summits, at which donors make specific pledges, was abandoned last weekend following Mugabe’s appointment and threats against the West.
“After the new AU chairman delivered his keynote speech, the NGOs present were going to meet and respond to the needs. Mugabe shot off at a tangent and started attacking the very countries that had come to offer financial help, telling them ‘Africa is for Africans’. A lot of the donors just walked away with their bags full,” Anita Mulira of Africa Rights told Now Daily on Wednesday.
A spokesman for a major Western charity providing humanitarian relief accross the continent said the organisation was taking its programmes to Asia.
“We are very worried about Mugabe’s statements. Like Gaddafi, he has laid out an imperial programme for Africa. Our funding partners worry that their money will be abused to build Mugabe’s pan-African empire,” said a spokesperson.
Zimbabwe’s foreign affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi scoffed at the Western threats to withdraw funding. He said African countries should impose new taxes on their citizens to raise funds for the AU and stop relying on the West.
“We can levy the hospitality industry, hotels, and ICT, so that we do not rely on co-operating partners,” Mumbengegwi said.
Africa relies on Western donors for 72 percent of its budget. The rest comes from a handful of African countries.
“We want to work to change that,” said Mumbengegwi, claiming that if new taxes were introduced the AU could fund all its programmes in five years.
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