LOCAL business mogul John Moxon, widely regarded as one of the richest men in Zimbabwe, has nailed his political colours firmly to the Zanu PF mast by donating brand new vehicles to spearhead the party's campaign for crucial general elections later this year, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
Informed sources said Moxon, Meikles Africa Ltd chairman, handed over the vehicles to Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa at the party headquarters last year to boost President Robert Mugabe and his party's bid to remain in power.
The cash-strapped Zanu PF has acquired 550 vehicles at a cost of about US$14 million for its election campaigns, despite failing to pay party workers for months, resulting in speculation over the source of funding with many believing they had been purchased using diamond proceeds.
For three years in a row, Zanu PF admitted during its annual conferences it was broke despite fears it has built a war chest for elections from Marange diamond revenues, although events suggest the party might actually be bankrupt.
Since the introduction of the multi-currency regime, Zanu PF has been relying on an overdraft with a local bank which amounted to US$5 million in February last year.
The funding was converted into a loan of US$4,5 million and a US$500 000 overdraft which attracts an 11% interest per annum, resulting in an unsustainable repayment obligation of US$125 000 per month.
Its total expenditure for last year was US$7,9 million, with a huge chunk going towards staff salaries (US$2,4 million), Gweru conference (US$2,6 million) and loan repayment and establishment fees (US$1,7 million).
Highly-placed sources told the Independent the party was relying heavily on donations -- which amounted to US$2,6 million last year -- to fund its activities.
Moxon -- once targeted by Zanu PF bigwigs during the controversial Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd demerger saga -- reportedly played an important role in the acquisition of an assortment of single and double-cab 4Ã—4 vehicles, including ranges of Toyota Hilux, Nissan NP300s, Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50s.
Curiously, around the same time, Moxon's flagship company Meikles Africa Ltd, formed a mining arm, Meikles Resources (Pvt) Ltd, and applied for a diamond mining licence currently being considered by the Mines ministry, with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) as a possible partner in a joint venture.
ZMDC chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa confirmed this week his organisation was considering Meikles Resources' application for a joint venture mining operation in the diamond-rich Chiadzwa minefields.
In the group's interim results for the period to September 30 2012, Moxon said profits from Meikles Resources were expected to exceed those anticipated for the entire group over the coming years and would therefore be of material significance.
It was not clear whether the vehicle donation was linked to the application for the diamond mining licence although sources said the two could not be separated.
However, Moxon said Meikles had not supplied vehicles, but said a company "with whom we have a connection" donated some vehicles, claiming he was not sure of the beneficiary.
"A company with whom we have a connection donated a small number of vehicles, but I'm not sure exactly whom they were donated to as we have not seen any registration certificates," said Moxon.
He said 500 or more vehicles would cost over US$15 million, adding no one connected to him would have that kind of money.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo declined to comment, referring questions to Mutasa.
When approached for comment, Mutasa said: "Tell me who is the source of your story. If you can't tell me then I won't comment."
When the Independent refused to reveal its sources, Mutasa said: "I can neither confirm nor deny the story."