HARARE – Despite the fact that millions of Zimbabweans are trapped in abject poverty, Zanu PF is going on a spending spree ahead of the 2018 polls to ensure its campaign machinery is well-oiled to face a tricky opposition that appears likely to rally behind one presidential candidate to face President Robert Mugabe.
The Daily News can report that the ruling party will be spending big on campaign material, advertising and promotions, as well as on vehicles to get its officials to connect with the grassroots, especially in its rural strongholds.
Much of the budget would be directed towards vehicles, amid indications that 210 Ford Fiestas with a retail value of about $25 000 each would be allocated to those who would have won in the primary elections and given the green light to stand on the party’s ticket.
The party is also considering buying a new fleet for its provincial chairpersons and other vehicles for party districts which act as the bridge to party wards and cells.
Zimbabwe has 10 administrative provinces and 59 districts.
Assuming that the party decides to go for all-terrain Ford Rangers for the 59 districts and 10 provinces, it would have to part with at least $3 million.
Combine that with the vehicles for the aspiring Members of Parliament, Zanu PF could easily fork out about $8 million on vehicles alone.
Earlier this year, the ruling party splurged almost $60 million on vehicles and buses, which are being used to mobilise the masses to attend its rallies.
Zanu PF’s secretary for transport, welfare and communication Oppah Muchinguri confirmed to the Daily News that the vehicles will be bought but refused to divulge at what cost, saying the revolutionary party does not discuss its plans in the media.
“Since when did we start sharing what we are doing with the media to say we are buying cars for so and so? Besides, we have not had our primary elections so it does not make sense to be giving MPs cars now because they have to win internal elections first,” she said.
“What I know, however, is that we last replenished our fleet in 2007 and it is those cars that are in a deplorable state now hence we are seeking to replace them for our provinces and districts,” said Muchinguri.
The Daily News is, however, reliably informed that Zanu PF will splash millions on Ford Fiestas for its aspiring lawmakers, which are lowly-priced than the Ford Everests acquired ahead of the 2013 polls.
Well-placed Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News that the party would soon take delivery of the 210 new vehicles for use in campaigns for the 2018 elections.
Among the new fleet are Ford Fiestas — similar to the ones which were recently purchased for the police — and top-of-the-range Ford Rangers and buses.
On average, a standard Ford Ranger single cab starts at about $40 000.
Critics are, however, questioning the source of funding for the election-related projects amid fears that Zanu PF could be engaged in foggy back-to-back deals that could involve conflating the party’s financial needs with those of government.
This could involve arrangements whereby investors gaining access into the resource sector might be coerced into funding specific party projects as a precondition to get the necessary approvals.
It is known that the party has not been getting much from its ordinary membership as well as from its investments due to the harsh economic environment in which the majority of Zimbabweans are living on less than $1 per day.
Most of the companies in which Zanu PF is invested in are bellies up and face the risk of closure, while a number of the party’s officials are also fighting sequestration due to mounting debts.
All these difficulties have seen the party’s coffers running dry to the point where Zanu PF is failing to pay its workers and service its debts.
Coming at a time when long-suffering Zimbabweans are struggling to make ends meet, opposition parties have accused Zanu PF of being insensitive to the plight of the masses.
The secretary for finance and economic affairs for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Vince Musewe, said it could be that the ruling party might have been behind the missing $15 billion from diamonds, otherwise how else could one explain the source of funding.
“We can only speculate that the missing $15 billion is now coming in handy. We are dealing with a kleptocracy that can never imagine itself out of power. One fine day the chickens will come home to roost. The economy is bleeding each day; no amount of cars in the streets will change that,” Musewe said.
PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume weighed in saying Zanu PF was abusing foreign currency to prepare for 2018 elections.
“The foreign currency is being abused by Zanu PF to oil their machine ahead of 2018 elections.
“It’s gross and criminal abuse of foreign currency, right now they are going all over the country using State resources during their so-called interface rallies.”
Only last year, the party spent almost $60 million on a new fleet of cars, trucks and buses, for party businesses.
Apart from buying cars for its parliamentary candidates and party structures — the ruling party is also under pressure from traditional leaders to buy them cars.
A fortnight ago, traditional leaders told the Daily News that they were demanding cars.
Considering that the country is hurtling towards crunch elections in 2018, it is likely that the chiefs will have brand new cars ahead of other urgent national needs.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the ruling party doesn’t care about people’s plight.
“The Zanu PF regime has never really cared about the well-being of the generality of the people. Zanu PF has always been a commandist and fascist organisation that believes in retaining power at whatever cost,” Gutu said.
“This is the main reason why State resources are being abused for the purposes of purchasing campaign motor vehicles for every Zanu PF 2018 parliamentary candidate. They loot the national Treasury and ensure that Robert Mugabe and his inner circle are always spoilt rotten. The Mugabe family lives life in the fast lane.
“They spent money like it’s about to get out of fashion. In fact, Zimbabwe will be permanently located in the miserable pool of failed States if the incredible happens and Zanu PF somehow manages to win next year’s elections,” said Gutu.