WHITE farmers in the Midlands province have been instructed to contribute towards President Robert Mugabe’s cattle pledge to the African Union (AU) amid claims the veteran leader is struggling to find the 300 beasts he promised.
Last year, as AU chairman Mugabe, promised to help the continental body sustain its operations through a donation of 300 cattle.
In February this year AU Commission deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha visited the country to receive the promised gift which would be handed over to the African Union Foundation.
Mwencha left the country without the cattle, and several months later, the donation is still to be to be honoured.
In April Zanu PF activist and Kadoma farmer Jimayi Muduvuri, who volunteered to coordinate the collection of the cattle, gave the country’s 10 provinces until the end of that month (April) to each donate 30 beasts each.
“We are reminding all provincial administrators, ministers of state and Zanu PF provincial chairmen to wind up their mobilisation and hand over the cattle to President Robert Mugabe as a way of thanking him for the work he did at the African Union,” state media quoted Muduvuri saying at the time.
However, investigations by NewZimbabwe.com have established that Midlands province failed to raise the cattle by the given deadline and officials have now turned to the remaining local white farmers for contributions.
“As you are aware most of our (black) farmers do not have many cattle and the local leadership, through the office of the provincial administrator, had to ask the few remaining white farmers to make contributions,” an insider said.
“Even the few black farmers who have cattle are skeptical that their donations would reach their intended destination given the history in the party of people who abuse the First Family’s name for looting purposes.”
Provincial administrator Cecilia Chitiyo did not respond to questions sent to her mobile phone.
Mugabe’s donation was condemned by the opposition, coming as it did at a time the country was appealing for more than a billion dollars to help feed Zimbabweans affected last season’s severe drought.
“This is a joke in very bad taste. It’s a joke that’s not funny at all,” said MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu at the time.
“How can … Mugabe, knowing that at least 3 million Zimbabweans are facing starvation because of the El Nino-induced drought, coupled with the effects of a disastrous land reform exercise, find it fit and proper to donate 300 cows to the AU?
“This is a question of lopsided priorities by Mugabe. He just enjoys being a populist and a showman.
“Instead of donating those 300 cows to the AU, the Zanu PF regime should actually have sold those beasts and raise money to import maize.
“With a president like this, who needs enemies?”
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Jacob Mafume said the 300 cattle were a most inconvenient donation to the AU.
“It will rank among the most bizarre donations that an international body has received,” Mafume said.
“If you take into consideration the fact that Zimbabwe is behind in paying its dues to the AU by a considerable amount then it all becomes farcical and rank madness.”