PRESIDENT Mugabe arrived Wednesday evening to attend the 24th Ordinary Summit of the African Union General Assembly that opens at the African Union headquarters tomorrow in Ethiopia.The President, who is the incumbent first vice chairman of the AU, was received at Bole International Airport by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Ethiopia Albert Ranganai Chimbindi, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his Ethiopian counterpart Dr Tedros Adhanom, and embassy staff.
The President is accompanied by Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha, ZNA Commander Lieutenant General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and several senior government officials.
Soon after arrival, President Mugabe held talks with Equatorial Guinea leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who briefed him on his country’s hitherto successful hosting of the Africa Cup of Nations underway in Malabo and other cities.
The President commended Nguema for saving and restoring the continent’s pride (by offering to host Afcon at the eleventh hour after Morocco pulled out at the last minute, which prompted Qatar to offer to host the tournament on Africa’s behalf).
President Mugabe said Afcon is an African tournament which could not be held on any other continent.
A crack team of Zimbabwe Defence Forces special forces is in Equatorial Guinea providing VIP security for the duration of the tournament, with all costs of the operation being met by the Equatorial Guinea government.
The 24th Summit, being held under the theme: “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” comes at a time Africa is grappling with multi-faceted challenges among them peace and security challenges in the Great Lakes region, north Africa, the eastern DRC, and Nigeria where Boko Haram militants continue abducting girls and recently attacked the town of Baga killing over 2,000 innocent civilians.
Also of concern is Africa’s continued reliance on donor funding to fund its programmes. Donors account for 60 percent of the AU budget, a development that sees them influence the continental body’s programmes and trajectory. For instance the union’s 2014 budget totalled $278 million, of which 44 percent came from member states, while the remainder was contributed by development partners.
Even more tragic is the fact that a mere $5.3 million went towards AU programmes while 96 percent was used to fund operational costs. This means that programme costs for key institutions such as the Pan African Parliament, the Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Corruption Board are being paid for by donors, a development that opens the continent to manipulation.
According to the draft agenda, the leaders are scheduled to tackle a broad agenda covering the launch of 2015 as the “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.”
The Summit is also expected to receive several reports from the Commission on the Ebola Crisis, the Commission on the Establishment of the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the Commission on the African Union Agenda 2063, the Conference of Ministers of Finance and Economy on the Alternative Sources of Financing the African Union, the Peace and Security Council, the Outcomes of the 2nd Africa-Turkey Summit, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, November 19-21, 2014, the Commission on the Situation in Middle East and Palestine.
The Summit is also expected to receive several reports from the Committees of the Assembly of the Union among them, a report on the UN Reforms from Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone and Chairperson of the Committee of Ten on the UN Reforms.
Also here is RBZ deputy governor Kupukile Mlambo who is accompanying Sadc candidate for the presidency of the AfDB Thomas Zondo Sakala.