15 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Election Campaign 'Funded' By Indigenisation

There are mounting concerns that ZANU PF is funding its election campaign using money secured through the indigenisation drive, with warnings that there could be a repeat of the 2008 election scenario.

Last week platinum mining giant Implats finalised a 'sale' of 51% of its Zimbabwe unit, following months of threats from the ZANU PF led empowerment ministry.

The deal, finalised last Friday, will see Implats 'sell' its shares for US$971 million to Zimbabwe, with 10% of the shares going to a Community Trust, 10% to an 'employee share ownership trust', and 31% to the State's National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund. The fund, which officials say now has US$2 billion of assets, is headed by a former army general and administered by Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora has since been quoted by the Standard newspaper as saying that the deal is being used by ZANU PF to raise funds for its party activities.

"That is asset-grabbing on the part of ZANU PF. It does not increase national wealth. We must adopt policies that are designed to grow the national cake instead of just sharing what is there," he was quoted as saying.

"We know that the proceeds (of the transaction) will be abused. All funds must be held by treasury," he added.

Mwonzora said the housing of the funds under the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund, instead of the Ministry of Finance, was designed to sponsor ZANU PF's "terror machine."

His concerns have been echoed by other observers and analysts, who have warned that lessons should have been learned from the 2008 election period, when ZANU PF's bloody poll campaign was financed by an international 'loan'. This cash injection saw the Mugabe regime cling to power through a campaign of violence and murder.

An investigation by the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa last year showed that an American institutional investor named Och Ziff financed that loan.

The deal started in 2008 with ZANU PF pressuring Anglo American Platinum to hand over about a quarter of its platinum concessions to the state, which then awarded the concessions to a group called Todal Mining, a joint venture between the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and a private company called Lefever Finance. This company in turn was owned by a shadowy group based in the British Virgin Islands called Meryweather Investments, linked to controversial businessman and ZANU PF functionary Billy Rautenbach.

Lefever Finance was then bought out by the Central African Mining and Exploration Company (Camec) for about five million dollars. It also threw in the US$100 million loan which it said was to help Lefever comply with its contractual obligations to Zimbabwe. The money went straight to Mugabe's government, in a deal that saw the regime get its hands on much needed cash.

Political analyst Clifford Mashiri told SW Radio Africa that here is "every reason to suspect that Implats and others forced into indigenisation deals are indirectly financing ZANU PF."

"This is ZANU PF ransacking ahead of what will be another bloody election. These deals have nothing to do with empowerment," Mashiri warned.

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