via Zanu PF plans $800k Mugabe bash – NewsDay Zimbabwe January 18, 2016
THE ruling Zanu PF party is reportedly planning to splash at least $800 000 on President Robert Mugabe’s 92nd birthday bash to be held in the drought-stricken Masvingo province next month.
by XOLISANI NCUBE
Zanu PF secretary for finance Obert Mpofu yesterday declined to comment over the banquet, referring all questions to the party national youth finance secretary Tongai Kasukuwere.
“The event is being organised by the Youth League and they have a secretary for finance who is handling all the fundraising and the budget. Talk to him, he should give you the details,” Mpofu said.
Kasukuwere said they were still finalising the budget for the annual jamboree, with various State enterprises, individuals and party structures expected to bankroll the festivities slated for February 28.
“We are still finalising the budget because we are still waiting for all departments to draft their own budgets before we could incorporate it into the main budget for the celebrations,” Kasukuwere said.
However, party insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity said the birthday celebrations were expected to cost $770 000 — a figure big enough to import large quantities of maize to feed thousands of starving villagers in several parts of the country who were bearing the brunt of this year’s El-Nino-induced drought.
The host province — Masvingo — has, according to the party’s provincial commissar Jappy Jaboon, been tasked to raise $100 000 for Mugabe’s birthday bash despite facing acute food shortages, where most villagers were reportedly surviving on wild fruit, while over 5 000 cattle have succumbed to drought.
Jaboon said the other nine provinces would raise $30 000 apiece, while the national team headed by Zanu PF Youth League secretary Pupurayi Togarepi was given a target of at least $400 000.
Zanu PF last year spent over $1 million in food, transport and accommodation for its delegates in Victoria Falls, with farmers in Matabeleland North province donating cattle and wildlife, among other goodies, to pamper the veteran politician, who is seeking to extend his term of office by another five years in 2018.
According to the 2015 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (supported by government, UN, donors and NGOs), an estimated 1,5 million people would require food aid in the first three months of this year.
Yesterday, political analysts and opposition parties said the shindig confirmed that the Zanu PF leadership was no longer concerned with the welfare of its people at grassroots level.
“They don’t care. That is the biggest tragedy that we have as country, and our political leaders do not care about the welfare of our people,” analyst Ibbo Mandaza said.
“In the past 10 years, we have had this economic crisis, but this has not stopped Zanu PF from holding a big bash, bigger each passing year. It’s an insult to the people of Masvingo, who are suffering, but it does not stop Zanu PF from partying in the sea of poverty.”
Another analyst Alexander Rusero said: “There is nothing wrong in celebrating the birthday of a leader or even anyone because life is precious. But what is important is the aspect of priority. What is number one priority list of Zanu PF? Is it to wine and dine in these trying times or is it to ensure human security through providence of political goods such as food? It’s ironic actually that the banquet is going to be held in Masvingo, one of the most starving provinces of the country.”
Rusero added: “But who knows, maybe President Mugabe will spring a surprise and channel some of the proceeds towards alleviating hunger and starvation in Masvingo. It’s too early to judge and pre-empt. Mugabe is a man of surprises.”
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: “This is not surprising to us, but disappointing given the level of starvation our people are going through. It’s painful that Zanu PF wants to spend such a huge amount of money on a nonagenarian leader who has led this country into this calamity.
“We all know that we have had a bad season in terms of rainfall, thanks to this El-Nino, but we believe that Zanu PF is worse off than El-Nino. That money should have been used to buy maize for the suffering Zimbabweans and it is not surprising that Mugabe and his regime have decided to feed themselves, leaving the ordinary citizen to wallow in poverty.”
Former Energy minister and Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe leader Elton Mangoma said: “This shows that the Zanu PF government has no interest of the people at heart. The moral ground to be a leader with such extravagance that you spend close to $1 million just one day when millions in your country are suffering and your own workers have not yet been paid their bonuses is unheard off.”
Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo’s mobile phone went unanswered yesterday.