By Wongai Zhangazha
While parastatals acted as if they had voluntarily donated money at the Zanu PF fundraising dinner held last week in Harare, most state entities had in fact received written letters pressuring them to donate for the party’s annual conference next month in Victoria Falls.
According to sources, the state firms, depending on their financial state, were given a directive to donate US$25 000-US$30 000, while ministries with revenue-collecting parastatals such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and Zimbabwe National Roads Adminidtration (Zinara) were ordered to chip in with as much as US$300 000.
“Well in advance, parastatals received letters detailing the amounts they were expected to pledge regardless of whether they could afford them or not. It is sad that parastatals which are making huge losses can make such donations,” said a senior official at a parastatal.
The country’s loss-making state entities have become synonymous with mismanagement, corporate misgovernance and corruption, making them a perennial drain on the struggling fiscus. Some have gone for years without paying workers their salaries.
However, one financial institution stood its ground and rebuffed Zanu PF’s fundraising request, instead only donating US$1 000 out of the requested US$100 000 for a platinum table, saying that was all what it could afford.
The dinner dance was attended by politicians and company executives mostly from parastatals, with the cheapest table for 10 going for US$10 000, while the most expensive table was pegged at US$100 000.
Over 6 000 delegates are expected to attend Zanu PF’s annual conference slated for December 7-13.
Organisers of the dinner this week claimed it was oversubscribed, with some people failing to secure tables. However, it emerged that the corporate world’s response to the fundraising dinner was tepid, as parastatals and other companies failed to fill the platinum tables.
This reportedly prompted organisers to fill the platinum table with companies that paid US$50 000 and US$30 000 to avoid embarrassment, with some companies paying as little as US$5 000.
The forced donations come at a time most companies are facing severe viability problems due to a myriad of macro-economic challenges including a swingeing liquidity crunch, resulting in firms shutting down and thousands of workers losing jobs.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya said the conflation of the party and the state means that state enterprises have a critical role in the survival of Zanu PF by financially supporting party activities such as the annual conference.
“In order for these heads of parastatals to keep their jobs and packages, they have to remain loyal to the party. Therefore the commercial viability of these enterprises comes second as primarily, these heads serve the political interests; the main reason for their appointments. It’s a client-patron relationship that is anchored on corrupt practices,” Ruhanya said:
Senior researcher with the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch Dewa Mavhinga said Zanu PF has for long been “surviving on the basis of being a parasite sucking the lifeblood” of the state through use of state resources, and forcing parastatals to donate to party functions. Zimbabwe Independent