Zanu-PF appeared headed for yet another embarrassment amid reports that no adequate preparations had been made to ensure food and transport for 4 000 delegates expected to converge in Harare tomorrow for the Women’s League Conference.
The Women’s League had to approach selected Politburo members — Cdes Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao, along with businessman Dr Philip Chiyangwa — to rescue the situation at the 11th hour, with the quartet donating 20 beasts, five apiece and working around the clock to plug loopholes.
The party’s National Elections Directorate is set to hold a crisis meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare at 2pm today.
Though the two conferences — for the Youth and Women’s leagues —are provided for in the party’s Constitution which should give the secretariat tasked with ensuring preparations adequate time to prepare, it emerged over the holiday that the Women’s League conference was likely to go the way of the Youth Conference that had to be rescued by President Mugabe on the day it opened after delegates slept on empty stomachs with some failing to make it to the venue as no provision had been made for their transport.
The First Family had to donate 1000 tonnes of maize and 30 head of cattle and dairy products from Gushungo Dairy to feed hungry delegates who were at the mercy of cash-rich party bigwigs on a vote-buying spree.
Women’s League boss Cde Oppah Muchinguri had to approach selected well-wishers within the party over the holiday to stave off potential embarrassment that might have put undue pressure on the First Family to rescue the situation again.
The shambolic preparations for the conference have been blamed on the party’s finance department headed by acting secretary for finance, and substantive secretary for administration, Cde Didymus Mutasa, who is traditionally tasked with ensuring that logistics for such important gatherings are in place.
The Women’s League had to extend a begging bowl at the last minute to stave off potential embarrassment.
The Women’s League set up a committee to raise donations and roped in Politburo members Cdes Saviour Kasukuwere, Professor Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwawo and businessman Cde Philip Chiyangwa who donated 20 cattle, five apiece.
Cde Muchinguri bemoaned the lack of support from the party for the conference expected to attract nearly 4 000 delegates.
She said the burden for hosting the conference was not supposed to be for the wing.
“We hold these conferences every four years and it is in our best interest not as the Women’s League, but as Zanu-PF party to make sure that all the guests, our delegates, will be adequately taken care of,” she told reporters at a press conference on Monday.
“I am pleased to advise that the Women’s League has taken it upon itself to ensure that all the necessary logistical requirements are put in place in order to avoid the chaos that unfortunately characterised last week’s National Youth Conference.”
The youth conference had to be saved by President Mugabe who donated 1 000 tonnes of maize and between 20 and 30 cattle for the delegates to get some food.
This was after the finance department failed to organise proper logistics for the conference and President Mugabe discovered that there were problems of food, accommodation and transport when the conference started late as delegates were going hungry.
In his keynote address to the youth conference, President Mugabe slammed some senior Zanu-PF leaders for concentrating on factionalism and holding clandestine meetings to the negation of party business that culminated in the shambolic preparations for the national youth conference.
The same situation threatened the Women’s League conference before the timely intervention of the committee the wing set up to mobilise donations.
The committee was yesterday busy working to ensure all logistics were in place.
Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe said he had approached Cde Kasukuwere, Prof Moyo, Cde Zhuwawo and Cde Chiyangwa after realising that the women were set to starve at the conference because those responsible had done nothing about it.
“I am happy to be able to advise you that having witnessed what happened with the youth conference where the young people did not have enough to eat, as a mother I said it’s high time we start looking for food so that at our own women’s conference the women will not have to starve as our children did,” she said.
“In my quest for assistance, I approached Cde Zhuwawo, Cde Moyo, Cde Chiyangwa and Cde Kasukuwere and so far we have raised 15 mombes (cattle).
“We are still working on it and as the donations come in we will be making announcements, but at least this guarantees that the women will have enough for lunch and enough for supper. I wish to thank the gentlemen for coming on board and helping us out.”
Cde Muchinguri said the Women’s League appreciated such help.
“We will be meeting just to make sure that all the areas of transport organisation looking at the venues, the sitting arrangements and also the refreshments, the décor, the issues of health are adequately addressed,” she said.
Cde Mutasa last night declined to comment on the chaos affecting the preparations of the women’s conference and why resources were not being mobilised.
“It’s too late now,” he said. “I am in bed now. Kana zvaramba zvaramba, why do you have to phone people this late?. Learn to respect other people.”
But secretary for Information and Publicity Cde Rugare Gumbo said it was the responsibility of the party through the finance department to raise funds for such a conference.
“That is the duty of the party,” he said. “The party through the finance department headed by acting secretary for finance (Cde Mutasa) is responsible for mobilising funds. The Women’s League can also have their fundraising activities.”
Cde Gumbo said he was not aware that preparations for the Women’s League conference were in shambles.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I have not been briefed about that, you better ask the women.”
The delegates are expected to start arriving in Harare today from all the country’s 10 provinces for the conference that will be opened by President Mugabe on Friday morning.