By Xolisani Ncube and Chengetai Zvauya
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party is reportedly splashing about $14 million on as many as 550 vehicles as it prepares a massive election campaign but the source of the funding for the vehicles remains a mystery.
The party’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed this to the Daily News on Sunday. He said the purchase is nothing extraordinary because his party is preparing for elections that Mugabe wants held this year.
“It is part of our programme to prepare for the elections, and there is nothing wrong with that. This confirms we are a serious party, and we want each province to have their own vehicles for campaigning,” said Gumbo.
The vehicles, 150 of which have already been purchased from a local car dealer, range between $35 000 and $ 40 000 each. In the past, Zanu PF has preferred the Nissan brand but with its mysterious newly found financial power, it is now going for the much stronger and expensive Toyota brand.
The vehicles are a mix of both double and single cabs.
According to sources the party’s national chairperson, Simon Khaya Moyo is handling the vehicle transactions. When asked about the issue, Khaya Moyo, refused to comment referring all questions to Didymus Mutasa, the party’s secretary for administration. For his part Mutasa was in a combative mood when asked about the issue.
“Before you write anything about us, can you publish where the MDC is getting its funds from, why are you interested in our affairs while you leave the MDC which is your party?
“Tell us where your party is getting its funding from and then we can discuss about our party,” said Mutasa adding that “please mind about the MDC, that is the party you work for, don’t bother us.”
The purchases come as the coalition government partners are fighting over the lack of transparency in the manner in which finances from the Marange diamond fields, the largest in the world, are being handled. With this fleet, the former ruling party is looking at having at least two vehicles for every constituency.
Zimbabwe has 210 contestable constituencies and with 550 vehicles, the party believes two vehicles per constituency could do them a good job to reclaim the lost political ground to the two MDCs.
The source of the funds, however, remains a mystery as financial reports presented at the party’s December annual conference held in Bulawayo last year showed that the party was in the red and was surviving on bank overdrafts.
The report stated that the party had spent about $6 million in the year against a revenue stream of only $4 million, leaving a deficit of $ 2 million. But six months down the line, the party is ready to splash three times its annual revenue on the expensive wheels.
Before the formation of the inclusive government three years ago, Zanu PF would turn to state assets for use in its political activities as it struggled for cash.
The development, which is likely to cause further tensions in the inclusive government, comes as Finance minister Tendai Biti from the mainstream MDC has raised fears of looting of diamond proceeds raising the possibility of the existence of a parallel government.
Biti claims one of the companies mining diamonds in Marange, Anjin, has not been remitting its mining returns to state coffers. Anjin is a joint venture between Chinese government and a suspected coterie of military figures.
“There is no doubt that a small coterie of individuals is benefitting from Zimbabwe diamonds. Some of us (officials) who are benefiting are not afraid to flaunt our monies. We are buying all kinds of assets,” said Biti.
“I am a government minister and earning US$800. How do I buy some of the assets that we are buying? People are now buying private jets because of our diamonds.” Biti said without explaining who in Zanu PF was buying the jets.
As of last December, Anjin claims to have contributed $30 million to Treasury. But figures presented in Parliament by deputy minister of Mines and Mining Development, Gift Chimanikire, reveal that Anjin extracts an average of 234 749, 92 carats per month.
A reclusive Chinese businessman, Sam Pa, reportedly finances a covert operation whose purpose is to sustain Mugabe’s regime. The details of the deal that this mysterious Hong Kong-based magnate has cut with Mugabe’s secret service has not been disclosed officially.
Officials close to Mugabe and the secret service, however, deny there is any connection. Pa conducts his business largely under the radar, keeps his name and face out of the headlines and is said to use a variety of different identities and nationalities which he changes with nonchalant ease depending on the country and situation he is in.
In Zimbabwe, elements of the deal have now begun to emerge and it fits his pattern of drawing members of a country’s elite into lucrative joint ventures so that, over time, he becomes indispensable to them. Daily News
To help maintain editorial independence Nehanda Radio relies on donations from readers like you. No donation is too small or too big. Help by donating to fund our operations.