OPPOSITION parties in Bulawayo have accused their Zanu PF counterparts of fleecing local firms by forcing them to buy portraits of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
Ruling party activists in the city are reportedly selling the portraits at a premium price of $25 each claiming the fund-raising project had been approved by top party officials. The companies are also being forced to buy other Zanu PF regalia such as T-shirts and caps.
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, Felix Magalela Sibanda, yesterday described the move as extortionist and called for the culprits to be brought to book.
“Our provincial offices have been receiving numerous calls from business and the general public on what appears to be fraudulent activities by some Zanu PF Bulawayo youth members. The Bulawayo stakeholders, particularly the struggling businesspeople who are operating at less than 25% capacity, are too bitter about this daylight robbery,” he said.
“We have since directed all defrauded citizens to report such unacceptable tendencies and behaviour to the police and other law enforcement agencies.
“The President’s portrait is a statutory requirement; therefore, there is no payment for it. Government must supply freely to all government premises, not to force private organisations or individuals to pay for unwanted items,” Sibanda said.
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo also condemned the move saying his party did not condone such criminal activities.
“Zanu PF is not a party of force, we don’t believe in that. Instead, it’s a criminal offence and anyone who does that must be reported to the police,” he said.
“They (public and private companies) should know where they get them (portraits). They know where they used to get them. They buy them voluntarily. All I am saying is that we are not a party of force.
“We are a very disciplined party and, therefore, we do not want people to be coerced to buy them. Anybody who does that must be reported to the police for appropriate action to be taken against them through law enforcement agents.”
Zanu PF Bulawayo chairperson, Callistus Ndlovu said: “The province has no such programme. It must be the work of some individuals. It has nothing to do with the party.”
Zanu PF has in the past suspended some of its Bulawayo youth leaders on allegations of defrauding various companies using the party’s name. There have been several reports of party youths illegally soliciting for donations on behalf of the party.
At one time, a Zanu PF youth leader was arrested for seeking financial assistance to bury a colleague who was discovered to be alive.