Bridget Mananavire 14 May 2017
HARARE – At a time that long-suffering Zimbabweans are struggling to make
ends meet, President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF is splurging up to $60
million on a new fleet of cars, trucks and buses, ahead of next year’s
eagerly-awaited national elections.
This also comes as the country’s stone-broke government is planning to
splash millions more on brand new cars for traditional leaders, in a move
that has been roundly condemned as “sickening vote buying” by Zanu PF
ahead of the watershed polls – and not withstanding other more urgent
Well-placed Zanu PF sources told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that
the warring former liberation movement would soon take delivery of 365 new
vehicles for use in campaigns for the 2018 elections.
The insiders said they had “no clue” where the party, which is struggling
to fund its conferences and to pay salaries for its staff, got the money
for the new fleet.
Among the new fleet are Ford Fiestas – similar to the ones which were
recently purchased for the police – top of the range Ford Rangers and
On average, the Ford Fiestas fetch up to $25 000 each on the local market,
while a standard Ford Ranger single cab starts at about $40 000.
Zanu PF secretary for transport Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri refused to shed
light on the source of the party’s money yesterday, and how much the new
fleet would cost.
“That is party business and I will not discuss that with the press …
sorry,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC branded the purchase of the
vehicles as “immoral and insensitive” to the plight of long-suffering
“We have repeatedly stated, and we repeat it here that Zanu PF is a
full-fledged mafia organisation.
“At a time when millions of Zimbabweans are struggling to access their
hard-earned money from banks, the Zanu PF regime has gone on a motor
vehicle buying spree, splashing more than $60 million on new cars and
buses for their 2018 election campaign.
“The source of the money is most likely the proceeds of the illicit sale
of the country’s diamonds and wildlife. The RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe)
is completely and utterly powerless to act where Zanu PF is concerned.
“In fact, the RBZ easily becomes a de facto extension of the Zanu PF
department of finance when it comes to facilitating illicit, fraudulent,
corrupt and illegal financial transactions.
“Remember, the regime is also going to spend millions of United States
dollars buying motor vehicles for chiefs in a clear and unmitigated vote
buying gimmick in preparation for next year’s elections,” MDC spokesperson
Obert Gutu railed.
“As the MDC and also as the country’s largest and most popular political
party, this is why we are strenuously pushing for electoral reforms in
order to make the playing field even.
“How are we supposed to compete with a mafia organisation that has looted,
ransacked and grabbed the country’s natural resources to push its wicked
and nefarious political agenda?” he added.
In a move that was roundly criticised by the opposition as “2018 bribes”,
the government announced last week that it was going to splurge millions
of scarce dollars on new vehicles for traditional leaders.
Speaking in Parliament, Rural Development minister Abedinico Ncube
revealed that government would be buying new cars for 226 chiefs, as part
of the fulfilment of the promises that Zanu PF had made in the aftermath
of the 2013 elections.
“It (buying new cars) is something we are working on. We are going to give
them (chiefs) very shortly … all 226 registered chiefs will get the
cars,” Ncube said, responding to questions on how much the government had
budgeted for chiefs’ to have vehicles before the expiry of the current
Apart from splurging on new cars for the traditional leaders, the
stone-broke government will also continue to pay village heads $25 in
“They are not given salaries, but this is an allowance. Every village head
is entitled to be given an allowance,” Ncube said.
Traditional leaders have often been accused by the opposition and rights
groups of aiding Zanu PF to retain power through terror campaigns and
partisan food distribution in rural areas.
While Zanu PF and the government are doling out cash like confetti, life
has become more and more unbearable for millions of long-suffering
Zimbabweans, as the local economy continues to die.
This comes as Zimbabwe has just been officially ranked as the poorest
country in Africa, at a time that the nation is also experiencing a severe
shortage of cash.
The cash shortages have seen snaking queues becoming a permanent feature
at banks around the country, as panic has set in among both ordinary
Zimbabweans and businesses – amid understandable fears that the dying
economy is hurtling towards the debilitating lows of 2008.
Despite the RBZ introducing more bond notes into the market and increasing
their weekly importation of United States dollars by 50 percent, the
government is dismally failing to stem the country’s severe cash shortages
which have seen desperate Zimbabweans besieging overstretched banks.
The acute cash crisis has led to renewed calls for the country to adopt
the South African rand as Zimbabwe’s anchor currency, to stem an impending
Recently, tobacco farmers rioted over cash, in ugly incidents which saw
heavily armed police officers engaging in running battles with them at the
Zimbabwe is deep in the throes of a debilitating economic crisis which has
led to horrendous company closures and the consequent loss of hundreds of
thousands of jobs.
At the same time, economists have said poverty levels in the country are
skyrocketing, with average incomes now at their lowest levels in more than
60 years – with more than 76 percent of the country’s families now having
to make do with pitiful incomes that are well below the poverty datum
According to the Africa 2016 Wealth Report, Zimbabwe is ranked as the
country with the poorest people on the continent, with average wealth of
$200 per person.
In the report, AfrAsia – a Mauritius-domiciled financial institution which
once operated in Zimbabwe after acquiring the now-defunct Kingdom
Financial Holdings Limited – noted that back in 2000, Zimbabwe was one of
the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa on a wealth per capita