South Africa’s contribution to the African Union is set to go up to more than R600 million under new measures adopted to wean the continental body off reliance on donor money.
The extra money could either come from existing revenue or by way of additional taxes, such as tourist or flight levies.
A satisfied AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told journalists following the end of the AU summit late on Saturday night that countries had agreed to the new funding formula.
“It is a big breakthrough; this matter has been discussed for the past 14 years,” she said.
“It is important that we pay for our own programmes, because we must do what we want to do, not what people give us money to do,” she said. “But at the same time we don’t want to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, we want to continue receiving help from them if they so wish.”
This means that contributions would be calculated on each country’s gross domestic product (GDP), with the biggest seven or eight countries paying more and contributing 60% of the overall budget.
Following disagreements about oil and tourism levies, the AU left it to each country to decide how they want to raise the money.
“Because it is a huge increase from where we are, it would be phased over five years, starting from next year,” Dlamini-Zuma said. “It must be funds that are available, predictable, but there must be flexibility in how each country raises those funds.”
She said countries could pay from their fiscus or raise it in an alternative way.
Those countries with more money will pay more, and those that have less will pay less, Dlamini-Zuma added.
A South African official told City Press this could mean a quadrupling of South Africa’s current contribution, something National Treasury was initially not keen on.
Treasury refused to comment on the matter before the February 25 tabling of the budget.
The AU’s budget for this year is just over $500 million (R5.8 billion), but it is set to drop to $400 million (R4.7 billion) next year. Eventually it will go up to $600 million (R7 billion), especially because security is quite expensive, Dlamini-Zuma said.
She said 75% of the budget would go for programmes, and 25% would be raised for peace and security.
The agreement on alternate sources of funding can be considered one of Dlamini-Zuma’s successes in office to date.