15 April 2018

Zimbabwe: Eyebrows Raised As Broke Zanu-PF Splashes Millions On Regalia, Vehicles

Zanu PF has refused to disclose the source of millions of dollars oiling its campaign machinery ahead of crucial elections later this year after former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo exposed the ruling party's abuse of State resources to fund its participation in previous polls.

Moyo, who fled Zimbabwe in November last year when the military moved to topple former president Robert Mugabe, revealed that in previous elections, Zanu PF spent a staggering $70 million buying campaign regalia from China and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The former Zanu PF strategist claimed the money was diverted from diamond revenues and warned similar manoeuvres were already being made to bankroll President Emmerson Mnangagwa's campaign.

This was after Zanu PF commissar retired Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje revealed that the ruling party had bought 15 million T-shirts, 15 million caps and two million body wrappers for women.

Moyo claimed Mnanagwa used the trip to China to get campaign materials and State funds were abused. According to Zanu PF's own records, the party is insolvent.

Last year, Zanu PF had a $19 million debt and membership card sales, its key revenue source, were down by a 75%.

The ruling party had a $1,2 million outstanding telephone bill and its companies were insolvent.

Zanu PF secretary for finance Patrick Chinamasa dismissed Moyo's claims that the party was diverting money from State coffers to bankroll its campaign, but refused to disclose the source of the millions of dollars used to buy the regalia.

"That [Moyo's claim] is obviously a lie. It's false anyway," he said.

"That [source of funds] is confidential, but obviously we are on a fund-raising mission to raise the money to fund our elections.

"That we always do, but I am not in a position to give details of that."

Obert Mpofu, the Zanu PF secretary for administration, also brushed aside Moyo's allegations, but said he did not know where the money for the previous election campaign came from.

"It's an allegation [$70 million diverted from sale of diamonds to fund the 2013 campaign] that will remain an allegation," he said.

"I am not aware of that and the party has always mobilised its resources for its programmes.

"I have been secretary for finance of the party although by that time I wasn't.

"I have no record whatsoever to confirm what he is saying.

"He was a member of the politburo, but I don't think he was privy to the operations of the finance department.

"If he has evidence to that effect, let him provide it than to speculate on something that he has no record of."

Mpofu said Zanu PF relied on its members to fund election campaigns. He said the party had already secured funds for this year's campaign.

"We have resources and we are ready for the elections. All that needs to be done will be done. I can assure you the resources are not from any institution of government," the Home Affairs minister added.

"We mobilise for elections like any other party does. Our system is very efficient.

"We always mobilise for our programmes and actually we have a very big membership in the country and our members alone contribute a substantial amount of our operational budget and no one should worry about that.

"[Moyo] was a politburo member and was also making contributions to the party.

"We have the biggest membership in the country and we have the biggest number of well-wishers in the country and even outside the country."

Besides the regalia, Zanu PF has also bought top-of-the-range cars and buses to use ahead of the watershed elections. Mpofu could not be drawn into revealing how the vehicles would be used during the campaign.

"We have not yet publicly announced our programmes," he said.

"We are coming up with a big function to launch our manifesto and our roadmap and it is then that you will be told what Zanu PF intends to do in preparation for the elections."

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti said Zanu PF had always abused State institutions during election campaigns.

"This shows that Zanu PF is a criminal party. It is a predatory party that has captured state institutions so these institutions have also become predatory and it's a problem," he said.

"It's a criminal political party that has commodified the state. The state is now a commodity, the state can now be sold and this is what they are doing.

"This is why there are a lot of fights in African states because it's a commodity open to the highest bidder. He who has money will capture the state."

Biti, who is the leader of the opposition People's Democratic Party, said the only way to end the abuse of state resources by the ruling party was to send those at the forefront of the looting to jail.

"The way forward is to send them to Chikurubi [Maximum Security Prison]," he charged.

"We should also make sure that there is genuine change in Zimbabwe so that these institutions become independent and serve the people of Zimbabwe, not a tired, old and bankrupt political party."

His sentiments were echoed by MDC-T spokesperson Tabitha Khumalo, who said there was nothing new about the theft of government funds to fund Zanu PF activities.

"Zimbabweans are aware that Zanu PF has been looting resources of this country. This started soon after gaining independence. These people must be brought to book and be accountable," she said.

"As the incoming government, we will make sure that those that have committed those crimes must pay back.

"We are sick and tired of living like nomads in our own country when others are munching into the national resources. This is so unacceptable," she said.

Dewa Mavhinga, a political analyst, said nothing would stop Zanu PF from repeating the 2013 tactics in this year's elections.

"Unfortunately, Zimbabwe's anti-corruption institutions are either too weak or too partisan to effectively deal with such problems, leaving the door wide open for Zanu PF to again do the same in the 2018 elections," he said.

Harare-based activist Patson Dzamara said there was need to build strong institutions to protect the country's resources from plunder by selfish politicians.

"Since the attainment of independence, Zanu PF has plundered the resources of this nation on avarice and greed," he said. "It's totally repugnant how that party has treated Zimbabwe and its resources as its private property," he said.

"There is just, but one way to stop this madness: we must vote Zanu PF out. Zimbabweans must resoundingly vote for a better Zimbabwe this year. We cannot afford to prolong our suffering."

Harare Residents' Trust director Mfundo Mlilo said the failure to separate the ruling party from the State was the root cause of most of Zimbabwe's problems.

"The conflation of the state and party is a major political problem in Zimbabwe," he said.

"There is widespread abuse of state resources both at the centre and even peripherally in state enterprises and even local authorities.

"It is the Achilles heel of the reform movement and opposition in the coming elections. It is a clear sign that the new administration is not new after all."

Farai Maguwu, who rose to prominence while campaigning for transparency in the mining of Chiadzwa diamonds, said the $70 million figure raised by Moyo could be an understatement.

"We all know Zanu PF doesn't run a single thriving company and yet they run very expensive campaigns," he said. "They have bought hundreds of vehicles for the party and chiefs to ensure they win the forthcoming elections.

"Where is the money coming from? Is it part of the missing $15 billion stashed somewhere whilst our hospitals have become death traps?"

Former president Robert Mugabe once alleged $15 billion worth of diamonds were looted from Chiadzwa, but has since recanted the claims, saying he only threw in the figure to illustrate the extent of the plunder.

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