MPs Suggest a Mineral Levy to Fund AU

NAMIBIA is currently looking at ways to co-fund the African Union.

As part of this mission, a motion will soon be tabled in parliament, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, announced.

Her announcement comes after defence minister Nahas Angula recently suggested that Namibia look at introducing a mineral levy to fund the activities of the continental body.

The decision to come up with adequate and predictable sources of funding was first made during the AU’s Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the 21st Ordinary Session in May last year in Addis Ababa.

A High Level Panel on Alternative Sources of Financing the African Union submitted a report proposing that member states should contribute to reduce dependency on external resources, and this was agreed in principle.

Ndaitwah informed the former prime minister that she has presented her report to cabinet, confirming: “The AU is looking at ways of funding. One of the ways is a levy from each country’s natural resource.”

She warned MPs that Africans should closely monitor as to who is disturbing the peace in some of the countries and who is benefiting from such wars.

“The Namibian government supports the idea of strengthening the AU,” she said.

Angula said the mineral levy can be used to fund the AU’s special force to keep peace in unstable countries, and that government can set a little percent for that tax but he assured his fellow MPs that it will amount to billions.

The Minister of Defence also asked whether Namibia can look at giving the AU a fishing quota to make up for membership fees.

“Whether Namibia gives a fishing quota or a diamond quota remains a question,” intervened Swapo backbencher Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, who also said Namibia should take the lead in funding the AU as it will be seen as paving the way for others. Compulsory contributions to the AU’s annual budget were ignored by many governments and eventually donors stepped in to pay for peacekeeping, health and educational programmes, as well as staff salaries. The debate of funding the AU came during the discussion on the Pan African parliament.

Some MPs suggested that the continental body should be given more power to make laws but Minister of Justice Utoni Nujoma warned that Africans should be careful of creating “monster organisations” which they cannot fund.

“We need to take it step by step,” warned Nujoma. “My fear is that the institution we are creating is being hijacked and utilised by foreign powers for their agenda.”

MPs were also worried that African leaders enjoy criticising the West for interfering, while they are still funded by the very countries they are lashing at.

With regards to the Pan African Parliament, deputy justice minister Tommy Nambahu urged the Namibian representatives to that body to first consult them before taking off in order to shape the country’s agenda instead of replacing themselves. The suggestions from the Namibian parliamentarians come two years after the AU commissioner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma learned that nearly all of the AU’s programmes are funded largely by foreign donors.

“Over 97% of programmes in the AU are funded by donors,” she said.

Dlamini-Zuma told African countries in January this year to cough up, help make the continent a better place and to reduce reliance on foreign aid.

She announced at the opening session of the AU executive council in Addis Ababa that this year the continental body would “focus on the issue of domestic resources mobilisation”.

Source : The Namibian