Wednesday, July 05, 2017

African Union Must Be Self-Sufficient
By Chigumbu Warikandwa
Zimbabwe Herald

The first quarter of 2017 saw President Mugabe, former chair of the African Union, meeting his length of the bargain following his 300 strong head of cattle donation to the continental body.

This goodwill had a snowballing effect downstream, which attracted more cattle donations from Africa's most empowered natives, the new land owners in Zimbabwe, courtesy of the land reform of 2000.

The taking away of productive land from unwilling former European immigrant owners to formerly dispossessed natives of Zimbabwe developed within the citizenry a sense of self worth, a value that had been eroded away for a whole century, making them realise the need to self-finance African institutions of renaissance.

President Mugabe, in his personal capacity as a successful farmer, donated 300 beasts to the AU as an exemplary gesture to the other 53 countries of the African continent to awaken in them that self-financing African development is possible.

Of the $278 million of 2016 budget, the African continent only contributed $122 million, a 44 percent minority, while the bigger chunk, 56 percent was financed by the donor community.

If divided by the 54 African countries, each country had an average $2,3 million contribution. The majority donors to the AU come from the West, a world bloc that still harbours undisguised interests to benefit from African resources immorally and unfairly.

China, the biggest donor to the AU in recent times, is the benefactor of the construction of the Addis Ababa headquarters of this important continental body.

China has not hidden its interest on African resources. With a dizzying world record population of 1,37 billion mouths to feed, China is aggressive in scouting the earth for opportunities to grow its economy and people.

The largely untapped natural resources are an important pull factor for the Chinese presence in Africa. Chinese President Xi Jinping is not a stranger to Addis Ababa. He also frequents Pretoria and Abuja, promising economic powerhouses of Africa.

Having built the AU headquarters and donated generously to multilateral institutions like the SADC, the Chinese have an unhidden intention on dictating the tune of the drum of African development.

The paradox here is clear: how should a man who sleeps under a roof obtained by another man's benevolence expect not the benefactor to admire his wife's behind both in his absence and his presence? This realisation is not quadratic equation stuff.

The gesture from Zimbabwe must send the rest of Africa into self introspection. Oxford University has an annual budget of $2,1 billion. This is just a school. But alas, Africa, a whole wide continent of 1,2 billion people, expects to solve its problems from a paltry $278 million!

Oxford University is not faced with a Boko Haram insurgency to be dealt with. Neither is it faced with the subtle, but insidious theft of African resources courtesy of the ideologies cooked at Oxford.

There is a sweeping drought in Somalia and the Kikuyuland veldts of Kenya, an Ebola scare in the war zones of the DRC; Egypt and Libya have both not found national consensus yet, nor have the people of Juba.

AIDS is still a tricky opponent in Africa, so is malaria and other water-borne diseases. The $278 million little purse is dwarfed by Africa's mammoth problems. How really can a Cape to Cairo railway be fixed by a chest pocket spanner?

It's high time for Africa to seek the services of a bobbejaan spanner to fix the mammoth problems in its backyard. The AU is currently running under the theme "Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in the Youth".

Very thoughtful theme indeed. The youth are an integral part of the African population. African leadership has the onus to protect the resources of Africa for the sake of the youths.

Mention of the 1,37 billion people of China has already been made here, compare that with 1,2 billion Africans from 54 countries endowed with more resources than the other overexploited parts of the world plus China.

This makes Africa a prime target for exploitation by fair or unfair means by anybody who dares so. It is encouraging to realise that the AU is sitting to deliberate on the need to reform the continental body, courtesy of Rwandese President Paul Kagame's report on the same matter.

There is need to reform the AU's thinking on operationalising its commitment to the total independence of the continent. Minister of Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa defended the criticism-prone agrarian reform of 2000 saying the ills surrounding the programme were a necessary evil that comes coating any revolution.

What is left for the country is to consolidate the gains realised thereof. He hit the bull's eye on this hidden realisation. Today, it is the very beneficiaries of the land reform programme who are the first private donors towards the progress of Africa as a self-financing continent.

Let Africa sow its own seed in order to own the harvest.

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