African Union Summit Opens in Ethiopia

Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe (C) gives a $1 million cheque to the African Union Foundation during the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 3, 2017.

The 29th biannual African Union summit opened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe presenting a $1 million donation to the body in a push for self-sufficiency.

About 60 percent of the African Union’s budget comes from foreign donors, including the European Union, World Bank and non-member countries.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, has repeatedly called on the bloc to become self-supporting.

“Africa needs to finance its own programs,” he said in comments to Zimbabwe’s state television. “Institutions like the AU cannot rely on donor funding as the model is not sustainable.”

Mugabe pledged 300 cows from his personal herd to the AU last year. The cattle, along with hundreds more donated from his supporters, were auctioned off in May with the proceeds presented to the AU on Monday.

The African Union has a 2017 budget of $782 million. In July 2016, AU leaders agreed to impose a 0.2 percent levy on certain imports to cover its operational costs.

Meanwhile, AU chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said peace and security issues on the continent continue to cause worry.

“The situation in South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic, the fragile relations between Djibouti and Eritrea, the difficulties in the application of peace accords in Mali, where the Jihadi terrorism is active, the political situations in certain African countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, are sufficient in justifying these worries.”

The two-day summit is centered on the theme of investing in youth.


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