Highly placed sources in Zanu PF said the party was in financial limbo and may fail to raise even half of the required amount.
“Unless there is a windfall from somewhere, we might see a different congress than we used to see over the years,” said the source. “The party is failing to raise the money, and there are no mechanisms at the moment that can generate the money for the congress.”
The source said this has forced the party’s congress organising committees to coerce some civil servants and villagers to donate money and foodstuffs.
“Villagers and civil servants have always been their easy targets. That’s why they are demanding money and maize from them,” one of the sources said. “That’s the only way they can raise the money, but they might raise less than half of the US$5 million needed.”
However, Zanu PF secretary for finance David Karimanzira on Wednesday denied that the party was compelling civil servants and villagers to donate towards the holding of the congress.
He claimed that preparations for the elective congress were going on smoothly.
“Do you read newspapers young man, the party national chairman (John Nkomo) said the preparations are on course,” said Karimanzira. “I want to reiterate what the chairman has said, the preparations are on course.”
Nkomo was this week quoted in the government-controlled media saying that “everything is going according to plan”.
Asked how the party is mobilising funds in respect of increasing reports that some party officials were demanding money from teachers and villagers to finance the congress, Karimanzira said: “There is nothing like that. We have our own systems to get money. If it’s true that there are people who are going around demanding money or any other goods purportedly for the congress, then it might be some rogue elements in the society who are stealing from the teachers and villagers using our name.”
Karimanzira declined to disclose how much the party had so far raised saying it was a confidential issue.
With more than 10 000 delegates expected at the congress to be held in the capital, Zanu PF has been battling to source enough money and food for the event.
The party is known for its extravagant partying at congresses with more than 120 cattle, goats, pigs, kudus, chickens and tonnes of rice sourced to feed delegates at last year’s conference in Bindura.
There have been increasing reports in Mashonaland West province and areas such as Bikita, Gutu, Zaka, Mwenezi, Zvishavane and Mberengwa of teachers and villagers being coerced to “donate” towards the hosting of the congress.
Reports say teachers were being asked to pay US$1 each while villagers were being forced to donate a bucket of maize per homestead.
The country’s two leading teacher organisations — the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) — have condemned the move.
Tendai Chikowore, Zimta president said her organisation was worried about the harassment that association’s members were being subjected to by Zanu PF.
“I was recently in Chegutu, Mashonaland West, and many teachers there told me that they are being forced to pay US$1 towards the congress,” Chikowore said. “As an organisation which represents teachers, we condemn such behaviour by Zanu PF. If it’s a donation it should be voluntary, no one should be forced to pay that money. We will fight it because it is out of our line of our work.”
PTUZ’s secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said his union was still investigating the reports and would only act after gathering all the information.
“We are still doing our investigations, we want to go beyond the reports,” Majongwe said. “This can be a criminal clique, a group of youths who are looking for money to buy beer and using Zanu PF’s name because they are known to be fearsome. There are people out there who want to benefit where it is completely unnecessary.”