Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has donated 300 cattle to the African Union to help it become less dependent on outside donors, a legislator said on Friday.
The cattle were handed over to AU deputy chairman Erastus Mwencha on Thursday at a ceremony in Mugabe’s office, though the herd is being kept near a small town northwest of Harare.
"The president has donated 300 cattle to the AU Foundation following a pledge he made last year when he was the AU chairman," Kindness Paradza, who heads the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, told AFP.
"We are looking after the cattle at a farm in Karoi and the AU can decide what they want to do with them."
He said the donation was Mugabe’s contribution towards the AU Foundation, which promotes financial independence.
Mugabe, who held the rotating AU presidency until last month, said he wanted the cattle "to play some part in…making the foundation keep going."
"It just struck me that no one had ever thought of a gift by way of cattle to the AU and since we are cattle people, why shouldn’t we also make a gift to the AU in cattle form?" he told the state-run Herald newspaper.
The AU thanked Mugabe in a tweet that hailed "his exemplary leadership in demonstrating the ability of Africans to fund Africa’s development."
During his year-long tenure as AU chair Mugabe, 92, bemoaned its dependence on external funding.
His 36-year authoritarian rule has often been criticised for its crushing repression and for causing the country’s economic collapse.
Mugabe made the donation as Zimbabwe faces massive crop failure due to drought with at least three million people in need of food aid.