‘Zanu PF blackmails business’

Zanu PF is reportedly coercing and blackmailing private companies to support an anti-sanctions dinner and concert by contributing up to $100 000 per firm in what some corporate executives described as extortion.

An entertainment company, Yedu Nesu, was contracted to organise the event to be held next month, and has been given permission by the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity to approach individuals and corporates for support.

The company aims to bring a host of acclaimed international artistes, among them Mali legend Salif Keita, US-based Haitian musician Wyclef Jean, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Rebecca Malope (South Africa) and Democratic Republic of Congo stars Koffi Olomide and Yondo Sister.

Top Zimbabwean artistes have also been lined up.
Information minister Webster Shamu confirmed the development.

“That is confirmed. There are no qualms on the issue of sanctions, we are going all out until people are aware that sanctions are illegal; that they are not sanctioned by the United Nations and are meant to reverse the gains we made through the land reform exercise,” he said.

Asked whether it was a party or government event, Shamu said his ministry was supporting the Zanu PF policy on the matter because sanctions were affecting all Zimbabweans “whether they were Zanu PF or not; young or old”.

But, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said this was not a government project, but a fundraising ploy by Zanu PF through extortion.

This comes hardly two months after Zanu PF youths went on a campaign to force businesses in and around Harare to buy President Robert Mugabe’s portraits for $60 and hang them in their shops.

Yedu Nesu has written letters to several companies and individuals asking for partnerships. A pamphlet accompanying the letters urges companies to contribute “$100 000 and above”, so that they are considered to be “Diamond Partners”.

In return, the Diamond Partners’ brands will get prime seating at the dinner and gala, be recognised as the main sponsor in all gala advertising and publicity and will get primary listing in a commemorative programme booklet.

Platinum Partners are expected to pay between $50 000 and $99 000, Gold Partners between $25 000 and $49 000 and Silver Partners between $10 000 and $25 000.

An account number 01123097900011 has been opened at the CBZ Kwame Nkumah branch whose account name is Sanctions Must Go.

Part of the letter from Yedu Nesu reads: “The petition is an affirmation by Zimbabweans that they oppose sanctions, the sanctions are affecting every Zimbabwean and they are illegal. Sanctions are inflicting on productivity negatively, hence suffocating corporations and industry and, above all, the overall economy.”

The letter states the anti-sanctions concert would be in line with Article IV of the GPA where Zanu PF and the two MDC formations agreed to fight sanctions.

“The concert is a follow-up on the signing of the anti-sanctions petitions that was officially launched by His Excellency Cde R G Mugabe,” reads the letter. The launch was snubbed by officials from the two MDC formations who argued it was a Zanu PF project.

Some businesspeople who received the letters, however, said the amounts were exorbitant and said they felt they were being extorted.

Justin Matenda, one of the directors of Yedu Nesu, refused to comment demanding to know who had supplied NewsDay with the letters before cooperating.

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