No money for Zanu congress

As bigwigs aspiring for top positions splash big money on vote buying, chaos beckons for the much hyped Zanu (PF) congress set for December amid revelations the party is broke to the last cent.

Rugare Gumbo
Rugare Gumbo

“The party does not have a single cent in its coffers for the congress. No-one seems to be caring yet time is running out fast. The main problem is that senior party members are seized with their own selfish political interests,” said a senior party official. “While nothing is being done to raise money for the big occasion, those planning to contest for the big posts are busy buying votes. The joke doing the rounds these days is that the money so far spent on vote buying is enough to fund two congresses,” he added. Zanu (PF) has announced that the top posts available for elections at the congress—two vice presidents and national chairman—will be open to contestants.

In the past, the positions were filled by predetermined candidates but there is a reported flurry of heavyweights gunning for the posts who sources say are responsible for vote buying.

Party insiders said aspiring candidates were buying influential party members luxury cars, giving them money to start projects, spoiling them at their farms and other clandestine rendezvous with expensive dinners and wines in addition to regular cash handouts. “Those in influential positions in the youth and women’s leagues as well current central committee members regarded to have clout are smiling all the way to the bank. It is clear that they are getting regular cash from the big guys,” said another insider.

Overnight meetings, particularly on Fridays and at weekends, have become regular at the farms owned by those that wish to land the high posts and thereby position themselves well for a post Robert Mugabe era. While the sources did not name the aspirants, current reports indicate that a number of party stalwarts are interested in filling the Zanu (PF) presidium.

Kembo Mohadi, one of the senior party members, has already publicly expressed interest to become one of the two vice presidents. Joice Mujuru is said to be interested in retaining her position as first vice president while the current national chairperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, and party secretary for legal affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, are also reportedly interested.

Secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, Obert Mpofu, who became noticeably rich as Mines minister, and outgoing Women’s League boss, Oppah Muchinguri are all said to be eyeing the post of national chair.

The Zanu (PF) politburo, an elite decision making organ, recently tasked Mutasa and a committee selected to coordinate preparations for the congress to start fundraising for the congress, said the sources.

“What is mysterious is that the politburo did not spend much time on the agenda relating to fundraising when it met recently despite the looming chaos. As it stands, the central committee must be reconstituted before congress yet there isn’t much talk on where to get money for that exercise either,’ said a third source.

Mugabe last week ordered the politburo to convene, but the meeting was dominated by increasing factional fights in the party, with logistical issues being relegated to the periphery, he said. Mugabe has repeatedly rapped vote buying and ill-preparedness in the party but his calls seem to fall on deaf ears. He publicly attacked his lieutenants for failing to raise money for the women’s and youth league conferences that took place in August and also criticised the main wing for rampant vote buying ahead of the two organs’ summits. Zanu (PF) owned companies are broke and not enough is being raised through membership subscriptions, leaving the party to depend on well-wishers who are yet to be approached, said the sources.

Rugare Gumbo, the party secretary for information and publicity, confirmed that Mutasa had been tasked with fundraising in his capacity as the administration boss.“Fundraising is an administrative task so Mutasa is working on that. It’s work in progress and I m not in a position to say how much money we have raised,” Gumbo told The Zimbabwean. He insisted, though, that his party had made significant progress in its congress preparations. “We have already held the youth and women’s league conferences and we are only left with the central committee before we can have the congress, so a lot of progress has been made,” he added.

Despite the covert campaigns taking place throughout the country, Gumbo said Zanu (PF) had not yet given the greenlight for jockeying while none of the candidates had officially informed the party of their intentions to contest.

He castigated manouvres by some faction leaders who are reportedly campaigning for the exclusion of female candidates from the presidium, apparently targeting Mujuru.

“I don’t where they are getting that from. Our position as a party is to have able leaders, regardless of gender. In fact, we are at the forefront promoting women into decision making positions, so whoever is doing that is ill advised,” he said.

Gumbo described as “wild and childish”, claims that the presidium was not a recognised party organ outside congress.

Patrick Zhuwawo, Mugabe’s nephew who sits in the politburo and is believed to belong to a faction led by Mnangagwa, recently claimed that the presidium was not recognised by the party constitution as a lasting structure but was only useful during congress.

Critics said Zhuwawo talking as a front for the Mnangagwa faction which is riled by the fact that the current presidium outside Mugabe comprises figures seen to be sympathetic to Mujuru.

He recently formed a non-profit organisation called Zimbabwe Institute which he is using to make comments regarding the succession wars in Zanu (PF).

Observers have linked the organisation to the Mnangagwa faction. But, said Gumbo: “I don’t know much about these obscure organisations. The media must make its own assessment of these things.”

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