President Robert Mugabe, the elderly and controversial leader of Zimbabwe known for his excessive spending, has donated one million USD to the African Union Foundation.
The donation did not come directly from President Mugabe’s pockets; the amount was raised through a series of cattle auctions organized by a number of Zimbabwean farmers. President Mugabe used to be a livestock farmer, and as part of this gift, he did donate the proceeds of the sale of 300 cattle from his own herd to the African Union Foundation, which he at one time presided over on a rotational basis.
Zimbabwe is one of the poorest African nations despite being located in one of the most fertile regions of the world. Zimbabwean cattle operations have been traditionally recognized as being among the most bountiful in the southern part of Africa, but climate change has made agriculture very difficult in recent years. In 2009, Zimbabwe entered a period of economic turmoil that has already lasted several years; to make matters worse, the drought seasons of 2014 and 2015 were among the most severe in history. Although bumper harvests have allowed for the raising of the aforementioned cattle for the donation, many Zimbabwean families are trying to survive on earnings of just $1 per day. Furthermore, the national currency has become so devalued that people have resorted to using bonds for payments during periods of hyperinflation.
President Mugabe and his young wife are known to be lavish spenders. Over the last holiday season, the President flew to Singapore, one of his favorite vacation spots, for medical treatment of ocular cataracts. That medical visit quickly turned into a $6 million presidential vacation. During the previous holiday, the First Lady went on a shopping spree that made headlines due to amount of jewelry she acquired along with an expensive plot of land in an upscale part of Zimbabwe.
At age 93, President Mugabe’s political opponents do not consider him to be medically fit to rule the country. In July, the President returned to Singapore for medical treatment of an unreported medical condition; this hospital visit occurred weeks after he appeared to be very frail while touring Zimbabwe. The main opposition party questioned whether the President would even be able to return home from Singapore, with one opponent accusing Mugabe of “running the show from his hospital bed.”
During his leadership term at the African Union, President Mugabe called for greater independence from foreign donations. The AU is an integration and cooperation bloc that aims to facilitate peacekeeping, trade, travel, defense, and welfare across the Continent. The AU Foundation is a social endeavor that fosters programs to benefit African youth and their families.
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