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03 July 2017

Zimbabweans donate cattle to AU after Robert Mugabe appeal

Zimbabwean farmers have donated “thousands” of cattle to the African Union (AU) Foundation following an appeal by President Robert Mugabe, the state-run Herald newspaper reports.

The donation is intended to help the pan-African body to rely less on foreign donors, it added.

The cattle had been auctioned, and Mr Mugabe would hand the money to the AU on Monday, the report said.

The donation comes amid a severe cash and food crisis in Zimbabwe.

Last year, more than four million people were in need of food aid in the southern African state after rains failed.

However, there has been a bumper harvest this year, with the country expected to be self-sufficient for the first time in years.

The opposition blames the government for food shortages, saying its controversial land reform programme has ruined the farming sector.

Zimbabwe has also been forced to introduce so-called bond notes after running out of the US dollar, the main currency people use.

Hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009.

Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said the cattle had been donated mostly by farmers who had benefited from the land reform programme, the Herald reported.

Their donation was an “expansion” of a 2015 pledge by Mr Mugabe to donate 300 cattle, he added.

Mr Mumbengegwi did not disclose exactly how many cattle had been donated and how much had been raised, but said that Mr Mugabe would present the gift at the summit of AU leaders being held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

On its website, the AU Foundation says it focuses on development programmes for youth and women, and promoting gender equality.

Mr Mumbengegwi said the donation was significant as it showed that the AU could find innovative ways to raise money for its projects.

Mr Mugabe, during his term as AU chairman in 2015 and 2016, campaigned for the AU to be self-financed as about 60% of its budget came from foreign donors, the Herald reported.

Cows are a prized asset in many rural parts of Africa, where families measure their wealth by the size of their herd.

 

 

 

 

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