THE Movement for Democratic Change has accused the ruling Zanu PF of offering opposition councillors in urban areas “huge bribes” to induce them to resign, the Zimbabwe Independent has been
In a statement last week, the opposition party said Zanu PF was bribing its councillors so they would resign from the party.
“The MDC has established as fact that the Zanu PF regime has put in place packages that include housing stands and cash amounting to as much as $10 million each in an effort to bribe MDC councillors to resign from the party,” said the statement signed by MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi.
In an interview with the Independent, the MDC’s secretary for local government, Jobert Mudzumwe, who is investigating the matter, said Zanu PF wanted to discredit his party before next year’s general elections.
“This is clearly Zanu PF ‘s strategy to tarnish the image of the MDC ahead of the 2005 elections so that the urban electorate votes against the party,” he said.
The MDC claims to have “irrefutable evidence” that some of its councillors have received bribes.
“We have irrefutable evidence that some councillors are now on Zanu PF’s payroll,” Mudzumwe said. “We cannot reveal the names of the corrupt councillors because it will jeopardise on going investigations.”
However, the MDC has to date not provided any of the “irrefutable evidence” it claims to possess.
It claims bribery of its councillors has spread to the MDC-led Kariba and Gweru town councils.
“Zanu PF, through a CIO agent whose name we have, offered to pay a monthly income of $400 000 and in addition pledged to pay rent and other service charges to one of our councillors (name supplied) in Kariba,” said Mudzumwe.
The councillors do not get a salary but receive monthly allowances which the MDC says have made some of them get “tempted to accept bribes.”
Harare city councillors are given monthly allowances of $70 000, Kariba councillors get $10 000 while Gweru councillors get a paltry $6 000 a month.
The MDC criticised Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for refusing to approve an increase in the councillors’ allowances.
“As long as Chombo does not review the councillors’ allowances, they will remain vulnerable to bribes, which suits the regime well,” Mudzumwe said.
Chombo could not be reached for comment.
The MDC has lost three councillors in the past few weeks. Tapfumaneyi Jaja (Ward 38, Kuwadzana), Grandmore Hakata (Ward 4, Mbare), and the controversial deputy mayor, Sekesai Makwavarara (Ward 21, Mabvuku) have quit the party and are now serving the Harare City Council as independent councillors.
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira could not be reached for comment as he was said by his secretary to be out of his office.