Mugabe dishes out equipment

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has sourced about 50 graders, excavators and cranes that will be handed over to chiefs and provincial governors today in Harare as he steps up his party’s campaign ahead of crucial elections.

Report by Brian Chitemba

Traditional leaders will in turn pressuretheir subjects into voting for Zanu PF.

Mugabe announced during the party’s Wednesday politburo meeting that he would unveil the equipment today at the open space close to the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society showgrounds – the same venue where the 89 year-old launched the anti-sanctions campaign in March 2011.

The Zimbabwe Independent yesterday witnessed government officials making last minute preparations for the ceremony which is expected to be attended by cabinet ministers, politburo members, Zanu PF supporters, chiefs and provincial governors.

Politburo members and governors, who were in the capital earlier for the politburo meeting this week, extended their stay for the handover ceremony.

Sources said Mugabe was confident that dishing out the graders, excavators and cranes for use in rehabilitating rural roads and maintenance of street lamps in urban areas will boost the party’s support ahead of elections.

In rural areas, chiefs will oversee the use of the graders and excavators which will be used for dam construction.

“It’s part of Mugabe’s electioneering because he is optimistic he will win if he is seen to be doing something for the electorate,” said a senior Zanu PF official yesterday.

The equipment was sourced from the Chinese multinational heavy machinery manufacturing firm – Sany Heavy Industry Ltd (Sany) although the value of the machinery is still shrouded in secrecy.

Mugabe is well-known for using farming inputs and implements to drum up support ahead of elections dating back to 2008 when Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono parcelled out farm equipment under the farm mechanisation programme.

Mugabe launched the controversial US$20 million Presidential farming inputs scheme last year that exclusively benefitted Zanu PF supporters. It later emerged that Mugabe received the money from Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

Zanu PF also sourced 550 vehicles valued at about US$14 million, some of which were donated by Meikles chief John Moxon.

The party has revealed at its last three annual conferences that it was broke despite fears it had built a war chest for elections from Marange diamond revenues.

Since introduction of the multi-currency regime in 2009, Zanu PF has been relying on an overdraft facility with a local bank which amounted to US$5 million in February 2012.

The funding was converted into a loan of US$4,5 million and a US$500 000 overdraft which attracts an 11% interest per annum, resulting in an unsustainable repayment obligation of US$125 000 per month.

Its total expenditure for 2012 was US$7,9 million, with a huge chunk going towards staff salaries (US$2,4 million), Gweru conference (US$2,6 million) and loan repayment and establishment fees (US$1,7 million).

The party heavily relies on donations — which amounted to US$2,6 million in 2012 — to fund its activities.