ZANU PF Deputy Secretary for Youth Affairs Kudzai Chipanga last week demanded First Lady Grace Mugabe should crack the whip on companies that refused to donate to President Robert Mugabe’s lavish birthday bash held in Victoria Falls on Saturday.
While addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters at Victoria Falls’ Elephant Hills Resort golf course, Togarepi, who was the master of ceremony for the birthday celebrations, told the First Lady to act on companies that did not tow the party line.
Chipanga singled out Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited, which he said allegedly refused to donate bottled water as requested by the youths.
He said Schweppes, when it was approached by party youths, also refused to donate money for the bash.
“Grace was shocked and she changed her expression after Chipanga announced this,” the source said.
“You could see her anger as she explained to Mugabe who had not heard what Pupurai had said.”
Chipanga’s comments come soon after the Zanu PF Youth League arm-twisted cash-strapped parastatals and indigenous businesses to bankroll Mugabe’s US$1 million-birthday-bash.
In the past two decades hundreds of companies scaled down operations with some completely shutting down due to political and economic problems in the country.
Due to the liquidity crunch being experienced in the country, several traditional donors this year failed to honour their pledge to Zanu PF.
Companies such as Econet, Mbada Diamonds and Schweppes, which normally donate to Mugabe’s birthday ceremonies, this year failed to donate.
“Econet simply gave us lines with airtime to use during preparations of the bash,” said another Zanu PF youth leader.
Zanu PF has always harassed companies when it comes to funding of events such as Mugabe’s birthday, party conferences and congresses.
Following his fall-out with Mugabe, former Masvingo provincial affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhaskiti revealed that he raised close to US$63 000 from Tongaat Hullets and Bikita minerals for the Zanu PF congress.
The Youth League also pushed for indigenous companies, which benefitted from the controversial land reform and the indigenisation policy, to donate generously to Mugabe’s birthday bash at a time the country’s economy is on the edge of a precipice amid a debilitating liquidity crunch and numerous company closures.
“We know which companies donated and we will make a follow up on those that snubbed us,” one Zanu PF youth executive member ominously said.
Meanwhile, the secretary for Youth Affairs Pupurai Togarepi in an interview on the side-lines of a fundraising dinner for Mugabe almost a fortnight ago, said the youths will not rule out using violence to defend the principles of the party to safeguard the former revolutionary party’s interests.
Togarepi said youths should guard against the principles of the party and violence may be used so as to preserve the ideals of the former revolutionary party.
“Americans are doing the same. They guard jealously their principles and propagate lies that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction so that they go to war to protect their own selfish interests,” Togarepi said.
“As Zanu PF youths, the principles of the party need to be defended and we are the vanguard of this (former) revolutionary party,” he said.
“My youths will be on the look-out that nothing happens to the principles and that we will crush the enemy so that we safeguard what our leaders fought for.”