ZANU PF’s pre-congress electioneering, double-standards and hypocrisy were once again exposed after the party said it would probe 12 Zanu PF MPs — dubbed “the dirty dozen” — for being used by the United States to infiltrate the party in exchange for self-help projects in their constituencies as reported in the state media.
The MPs are accused of briefing the US embassy on classified Zanu PF meetings under the disguise of a special self-help programme funded by the US government focusing on assisting community-focused projects, especially among the less-privileged.
An anonymous Zanu PF senator was last week quoted in state media as saying: “This is a dirty dozen, disciples of regime change.
MPs who shamelessly accepted 30 filthy pieces of silver from the very same Uncle Sam who takes pride in having imposed illegal and evil sanctions that have devastated the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans across the country.
“It is a tragedy that this dirty dozen is either breathtakingly naïve or hopelessly treacherous or both to the point of not seeing the harmful consequences of their actions.”
The MPs accused of clandestinely working with the US embassy officials include deputy Health minister Paul Chimedza, who is Gutu South MP; Paul Mavhima (Gokwe Sengwa); Walter Kanhanga (Guruve North); Adam Chimwamurombe (Chipinge We-st); Chriswell Mutematsaka (Guruve South); Batsirayi Pemhanayi (Mutare North); and Enock Porusingazi (Chipinge West).
The list also includes Shurugwi South MP Tapiwanaishe Matangaidze, Temba Mliswa (Hurungwe West), Kindness Paradza (Makonde), David Butau (Mbire), and Uzumba MP Simbaneuta Mudarikwa.
Many of the MPs have since dismissed the allegations.
The labelling of the MPs and threatened probe smacks of hypocrisy and has the hallmarks of intense Zanu PF factional fighting where party members across the factional divide continue to besmirch each other to strategically position themselves ahead of the ruling party’s congress in December.
The move also suggests despite diplomatic overtures, relations between the US — which maintains “targeted” sanctions against President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle — and Zanu PF government are still some way from normalising.
In a statement this week, the US embassy in Harare said the Ambassadors Special Self-Help Programme in the past 10 years had disbursed more than US$1 million in small grants to community groups for projects that seek to bring about tangible improvements in basic economic and/or social conditions at the village level.
Beneficiaries include people living with HIV and Aids, orphans, the disabled and widows, among many other vulnerable groups.
The embassy stressed no Zimbabwean MP or any other politician has received any funding through this programme.
Ironically, at a Special Economic Zone function in Norton, the same government begged Western governments for funding with Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda pleading: “If you can invest in Afghanistan where there is war, why not bring your money here where there is peace.”
Ironically also, senior Zanu PF officials across the party’s rank and file, among them those labelling fellow legislators traitors, were exposed by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks for briefing Americans on developments in government and the party.
Party officials including politburo members and legislators from across the factions were implicated by WikiLeaks cable leaks, but despite menacing threats, no probe was ever undertaken.
During Wednesday’s parliament question-and-answer session, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the Leader of the National Assembly, said it was wrong for legislators to brief foreign embassies or seek funding from them claiming the responsibility to seek funding lies with government.
He, however, called for caution saying legislators should not be blamed for such activities in the absence of credible information, questioning the credibility of Herald stories and insinuating they smacked of hidden political agendas.
Since Independence in 1980, the Zimbabwe government’s programmes have been significantly funded by donors, with millions of people surviving on food aid provided mostly by Western international organisations.
Even the country’s constitution, adopted after a referendum last year, was mostly funded by donors, among them the United Nations Development Programme.
Analysts said Zanu PF simply did not care about the welfare of the ordinary people who benefit from Western aid as the public interest is subordinate to the race to succeed Mugabe.
The different factions in Zanu PF are willing to go to any length to try to win the approval of Mugabe by appearing as if they are the ones with the party’s interests at heart.
Others say instead of embarking on this futile witch-hunt, Zanu PF is better advised to channel its energy into probing party members who have been accused of corruption — a cancer that even some Zanu PF heavyweights have conceded is more debilitating than Western sanctions imposed on the country.
A number of government ministers and officials have been accused of soliciting for bribes, with Mugabe in one instance publicly stating some ministers had solicited for a US$10 million bribe from South African investors to facilitate diamond deals.
However, Mugabe’s much-reprised “zero-tolerance to corruption” remains unfulfilled with action.
Parastatals and state entities such as National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe United Passenger Company and Air Zimbabwe, among others, have been struggling to pay workers while a number of corrupt activities were raised, yet no useful probe has taken place.
Hundreds of people have died and women raped due to political violence, but despite the perpetrators being named, no probe to bring to book perpetrators of the violence has been instituted.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya said a probe of the “dirty dozen” would yield nothing apart from just exposing the huge factional fights engulfing Zanu PF.
“The witch-hunt is largely spearheaded by hardliners within Zanu PF who want to frame their political adversaries as puppets of the West and agents of internal regime change,” said Ruhanya.
“That political frame is largely directed to make President Mugabe support the hardliners in the factional succession battles given his public aversion to foreign interference. However, without evidence as is the case in this situation, the framing will not succeed because the victimised individuals will fight back.”
He said Zanu PF does not care about the welfare of the ordinary people who benefit from American or Western benevolence; instead when it comes to preserving factional interests or Mugabe’s power, the public interest is secondary.
“In this case, the cabal that is attacking these MPs is more interested in soiling the image of their political rivalries so facts and truths are compromised for political expediency of advancing factional interests.”
According to the US fiscal year 2013, the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) Greatest Hits health document, USAid investment of about half-a-billion dollars in Zimbabwe over the last decade has contributed to a significant decline in annual HIV and Aids mortality from an estimated 147 800 in 2005 to 41 500 in 2013.
USAid provided more than 162 000 vulnerable children with education, psycho-social, medical and other critical care and support services. It provided 1,2 million malaria test kits and over 550 000 malaria prevention tablets for pregnant women, resulting in a significant national increase in the number of women on malaria prophylaxis from 8% of pregnant woman in 2010 to 75% in 2012.
In terms of economic stability, the USAid said it worked with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and other private sector companies and non-governmental organisations to provide more than 1 000 job-seekers with internships and mentorships coupled with life skills and work readiness training.
In his column, journalist Rashweat Mukundu this week said the attack on the 12 MPs is hypocrisy beyond measure.
“The attacks are equally sad in that they do not take into account the developmental interest of the rural communities who are not receiving anything from Treasury towards their economic developmental needs.
“What is more disconcerting about this whole saga is how people are slowly being made to see issues from a binary point of view; things are either black or white, the them-and-us kind of thinking,” said Mukundu.