President lays out vision for Africa

From Caesar Zvayi in ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

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AFRICAN Union Chair President Mugabe yesterday rallied member states to walk the talk by exploiting the alternative sources of funding they had agreed on in order to wean the continent off over-reliance on external co-operating partners.

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The Chairman’s call, made as he officially closed the 24th Ordinary Session of the AU here, followed disturbing reports that nearly three-quarters of the bloc’s budget comes from co-operating partners who contribute 72 percent with members meeting the other 28 percent.

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President Mugabe said Agenda 2063, which envisages harnessing human and natural resources for the benefit of all Africans, would be stillborn if the continent continued relying on those who were growing fat on the back of its exploitation.

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“Our lofty ideals in Vision 2063 would come to naught unless we take strong and decisive steps to confront the financial challenges confronting our continent. A situation where over 70 percent of the AU budget is foreign funded, is certainly unsustainable. It is also a serious threat to the security and wellbeing of our people,” he said.

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Even more tragic were revelations that only four percent of last year’s budget went towards programmes while 96 percent was used to fund operational costs.

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This meant funding for key institutions such as the Pan-African Parliament, the Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Corruption Board came from donors, making the continent vulnerable to manipulation.

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In light of this, Summit adopted a resolution for alternative sources of funding to enable the AU to finance its own running costs 100 percent, as well as at least 75 percent of its programme expenses and no less than 25 percent of its peacekeeping operations within the next five years.

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The resolution calls on Africa to cumulatively build on this until it is able to fund its entire budget.

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“This Summit had, therefore, to adopt several important measures aimed at broadening the financial base of our organisation and the viability of our programmes. Let us walk the talk, and immediately start implementing the alternative sources of financing that this Summit has embraced,” President Mugabe said.

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He said at the 24th Summit, leaders had re-dedicated themselves to the Pan-African ideals of the founding fathers through several important decisions that – if fully implemented – were bound to propel the continent into “the Africa that Africans want, an Africa that is peaceful, integrated, people-centered and prosperous”.

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“Africa is a continent endowed with abundant resources. We have agreed, as part of our 2063 Agenda, to leverage our resources for the benefit of our people. To achieve this, objective, we have to intensify our efforts to value add and beneficiate our mineral resources, as well as to industrialise and create employment for our people, especially the youth,” he said.

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Turning to other challenges facing the continent, the President expressed full solidarity with the Ebola-affected countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia; saying Summit had renewed the mandate of the AU Support for Ebola in West Africa.

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“We have also taken a concrete decision to accelerate our efforts to establish the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, this in order to enhance our preparedness and response to such disease outbreaks,” he added.

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Summit, President Mugabe said, had redoubled efforts to ensure durable peace and security in Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia and the DRC.

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To this end Summit expressed full support for the establishment of the Multi-National Joint Task Force to combat Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria.

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“The scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, as demonstrated by the attacks perpetrated by different terrorist groups across the continent, including Al Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in the West Africa, is really cause for concern,” President Mugabe said.

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Turning to the proposed reform of the United Nations, President Mugabe reiterated Africa’s position as contained in the Ezulwini Consensus.

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“It is totally unacceptable, in this 21st Century, that the Security Council remains deeply rooted in the architecture of 1945. This Assembly reaffirmed Africa’s position on this important matter as contained in the Ezulwini Consensus,” President Mugabe said.

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The Ezulwini Consensus is the common position on the reform of the UN organ, declaring that Africa gets at least two permanent seats with veto power and five non-permanent seats on the Security Council, with the AU choosing which countries occupy these slots.

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President Mugabe called on Morocco to end its illegal occupation of the Saharawi Arab Demcratic Republic – Africa’s last colony – and expressed the continent’s full support for Palestinians in their legitimate struggle against Israeli occupation of their homeland.

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The vote of thanks was delivered by Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, with South Africa offering to host the mid-term Summit in June/July.