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Zanu PF extends begging bowl

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Plans to raise $3m for conference

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped Zanu PF is in dire need of $3 million to bankroll the party’s 14th National People’s Conference to be held in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West Province, next month.

EVERSON MUSHAVA,CHIEF REPORTER

In a sign that the ruling party could coerce the business sector to shore up its drying coffers, it has lined up events that include a fundraising dinner in Harare on Friday with tables selling for as much as $100 000.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday said the fundraising dinner would be followed by a business exhibition that will run concurrently with the conference in Chinhoyi from December 12-15.

“The party will hold a fundraising dinner to raise funds for the conference,” Gumbo said.

“There will be several categories of tables. Platinum table will be going for $100 000, $50 000 for gold, $30 000 for silver, $10 000 for bronze and the general table will be going for $2 000. Individual tickets will be selling for $200.”

The move by Zanu PF comes as dozens of factories are lying idle with peeling paint, rusting machines and broken roofs in once bustling industrial districts, symbols of the huge economic challenges facing Mugabe’s party.

For three years in a row, Zanu PF admitted during its annual conferences it was broke despite fears it 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 in 2009, Zanu PF has been relying on an overdraft facility with a local bank which amounted to $5 million in February last year.

Several companies are reportedly working at a third of capacity, down from 55% a year ago, according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).

The manufacturing heartlands of Harare and Bulawayo, which accounted for a quarter of the economy a generation ago, are now wastelands.

Prices for stands for the Chinhoyi exhibition expo to be officially opened by President Robert Mugabe, Gumbo said, will range from $3 000 to
$7 000.

He, however, did not disclose how much the party had raised so far.

The party, whose initial plans were to build a $10 million conference facility, were shelved in favour of makeshift shelter to be erected at Chinhoyi University due to the country’s liquidity crunch. All provinces will be given three years to build national convention centres for future conferences.

“Material from South Africa is already in the country and we hope to complete setting up the makeshift structures by the end of the month,” Gumbo said.

Gumbo said the party was implementing mechanisms to prevent situations where members will solicit funds for personal use in the name of the party. He said even the sale of party regalia would have to be sanctioned by the party’s information department.

The party had disputes that spilled into courts after members in Manicaland province allegedly solicited money from diamond mining companies for last year’s Gweru conference, allegedly converting some of the money to personal use.

There have been reports that party members in districts across the country were demanding contributions from newly resettled farmers and companies towards the conference.

Politburo member Charles Tawengwa, who is the party’s deputy secretary of finance, implored all members and companies to demand genuine receipts from the party and to make follow ups to see if the money they contributed would have reached the party’s headquarters to avoid misappropriation of funds.

Business mogul John Moxon, widely regarded as one of the richest men in Zimbabwe, nailed his political colours firmly to the Zanu PF mast by donating brand new vehicles to spearhead the party’s campaign for the July 31 general elections.

It is understood that Moxon, Meikles Africa Ltd chairperson, handed over the vehicles to Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa at the party headquarters last year to boost Mugabe and his party’s bid to remain in power.

Zanu PF acquired 550 vehicles at a cost of about $14 million for its election campaign, despite failing to pay party workers for months, resulting in speculation over the source of funding with many believing it came from diamond proceeds.

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