Zanu PF must stop extorting struggling firms

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All roads will soon lead to the Zanu PF conference in Victoria Falls, and many businesses, particularly those operating in Matabeleland North, will not know peace until the event is over.

This follows Zanu PF’s threat that every company operating in the host province should pledge towards the conference to be held from December 7-13 in the country’s premier tourism town.

The party has also indicated that pledges should be followed through to ensure all companies have donated towards the party’s fête. Obviously there is a price to pay if a business fails to give towards Zanu PF festivities.

We are worried that forcing companies to pledge cash at this critical period when the economy is hurtling towards the abyss is some kind of extortion and outright diabolical.

Party leaders have set a target of $100 000 for the host province, while other provinces have been tasked to raise $50 000. One wonders where these businesses will get the extra cash to donate in various ways to the ruling party, which is entirely responsible for the country’s economic demise.

some of the donated foodstuffs for the women's conference

How on earth can fair-minded individuals fleece struggling companies of their hard-earned cash through coercion? Is it not surprising that Zanu PF leaders have set financial targets based on individual firms when the same companies are failing to pay their workers?

What we find nauseating is that after presiding over Zimbabwe’s economic collapse, the party still has the guts — without shame nor conscience — to approach companies that have viability problems to cough out cash to fund its annual extravaganza.

It is our contention that party gatherings must be bankrolled through its membership support base. If Zanu PF can only get a million of its supporters to contribute a $1 towards the event, the party would raise $1 million and there would be no need to rope in struggling companies.

It is no secret that some firms support Zanu PF to protect their businesses. It is not surprising that the party’s support base is also hard-pressed to part ways with whatever little financial resources they have, which they would better use to cater for their own immediate families.

It is quite unfortunate that most of these companies are “softly” arm-twisted into financing the Zanu PF conference if they are to remain operational and despite their bottom line, they will definitely cough out whatever meagre resources they have to ensure that the Zanu PF conference — which is usually associated with obscene feasting, while the rest of the populace wallows in abject poverty — goes ahead as if everything is normal.

Tables ranging from $500 to $5 000 are not cheap in an economy like Zimbabwe’s, but, of course, with the way Zanu PF is used to riding roughshod over everybody, businesses will cough up the money even to their own detriment.

Long after the conference has become history, some of these companies will still be struggling to regain viability.

It boggles the mind why a party, whose people are living in misery, would want to raise $3 million to feed, transport and accommodate delegates at top hotels — when the situation is tough for the majority.