Walter Nyamukondiwa in KAROI
African Union Commission deputy chairperson Mr Erastus Mwencha yesterday received 300 head of cattle donated by President Mugabe to the African Union Foundation at a colourful ceremony held in Karoi.
Speaking at the handover of the cattle comprising heifers, steers and cows at the vast Vhuka Farm, Mr Mwencha said the donation by President Mugabe was symbolic of the African heritage.
“I am happy to receive the 300 head of cattle on behalf of the African Union in fulfilment of the pledge made by President Mugabe to the AU Foundation,” said Mr Mwencha.
“The donation of cattle is symbolic of the African heritage to Africa and to the world. Cattle hold a special place in our lives as Africans.”
President Mugabe made the pledge in June last year when he was AU and Sadc chairman in a symbolic gesture to encourage Africa to look inward for solutions as external help often comes with strings attached.
He said the choice of cattle as a donation to the AU Foundation showed that President Mugabe was well grounded in the understanding of the continent’s values and dynamics.
The donation dovetails with the trajectory he set as AU chairman, he said.
“The donation is symbolic and shows that President Mugabe appreciates that Africa is predominantly agriculture based with over 70 percent of its people sustained by it,” he said.
President Mugabe, he said had set Africa on the trajectory of self-reliance and the donation had to be understood in that context.
Mr Mwencha said the donation would go a long way in capacitating the foundation in its quest to address some of the myriad challenges Africa was facing.
The foundation, he said worked with other partners to fight the Ebola outbreak, which hit West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the central region.
The most affected countries were Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone where over 11 000 people succumbed to the deadly virus since the first outbreak in 2014.
With the Ebola virus conquered, Mr Mwencha said the Foundation had to support the development of education and setting up of robust health systems on the continent among other commitments.
The AU Foundation was mooted by African Heads of State and Government to collaborate with the private sector, philanthropists, individuals and the Diaspora to mobilise donations and voluntary contributions to fund Africa’s development priorities in line with Agenda 2063.
Some of the Foundation’s goals include promoting the development of skills and Africa’s human capital, women empowerment and gender equality, youth development and entrepreneurship, advocacy and support for the AU.
Turning to the cattle, Mr Mwencha said he was overwhelmed by the good state of the head of cattle posing a dilemma on whether to auction the cattle or nurture them so that they would multiply.
“The cattle are in such a beautiful state that it pains to even think of auctioning them. So we are reflecting on the possibility of nurturing them so that they multiply,” said the AU Commission deputy chairman.
Foreign Affairs minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi who handed over the cattle, said the head of cattle was in excellent condition.
Mashonaland West minister of State Cde Faber Chidarikire, said it was an honour for the province to look after them.
“This is a momentous occasion for us as a province to play host to an event that further illustrates that President Mugabe is a visionary leader who fulfils his promises,” said Cde Chidarikire.
Kadoma businessman Cde Jimayi Muduvuri who is collaborating with Vhuka Farmer owner Mr Hashmon Matemera and several other farmers to look after the cattle, said the move vindicated the land reform programme.
“We took the decision to support the President as a way of showing that we are beneficiaries of the land reform and we are grateful,” said Cde Muduvuri.
Mr Matemera said the move was an expression of the determination of indigenous farmers to fly the Zimbabwean flag high.
The handover ceremony was also attended by Ministers Dr Joseph Made (Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development), Dr Mumbengegwi, Saviour Kasukuwere (Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development) and Ambassador to Ethopia Mr Albert Ranganai Chimbindi among others.
Chief Chanetsa and Makonde MP Cde Kindness Paradza were also part of the delegation.
The AU Commission deputy chairman later toured Vhuka Farm, which is home to game such as lions, wildebeest and pigs after seeing the cattle and their official handover.