ZANU PF has called for transparency, within the party, in the distribution of equipment sourced under a publicly underwritten US$98 million agricultural equipment loan facility, extended to Harare by Brasilia under the Zimbabwe-Brazil More Food for Africa Programme, confirming party officials’ misplaced belief they are entitled to the equipment.
The development comes as it has emerged that Zimbabwe was awaiting to receive a further 156 tractors under the first phase of the facility, which First Lady Grace Mugabe has been abusing for political gain, by making partisan donations under the guise that the equipment was hers.
Minutes of the Zanu PF central committee meeting held in August, which were availed at last week’s central committee meeting, reveal that Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made said the country was awaiting delivery of an additional 156 tractors under the facility.
He also said Belarus had agreed to support the country with tractors and fertiliser which would benefit A1 and A2 farmers.
The central committee, according to the minutes, called for transparency in distributing the equipment.
“On the distribution of the referred tractors from Brazil and Belarus, Central Committee impressed the concerned government ministries to disburse the tractors transparently and account for all machinery received,” read the minutes.
Brazil supplied Zimbabwe with 320 red 575,4 Agrale tractors, 450 disc harrows, 310 planters, 100 fertiliser spreaders and 6 650 knapsack sprayers valued at US$38,6 million under the first phase of the US$98 million facility commissioned by President Robert Mugabe in May.
The loan will be paid back using tax payers’ money. The facility has a 2% interest rate per annum, payable in 15 years with a three-year grace period.
Grace, who is not a government official, has however been donating the equipment at Zanu PF rallies as is if it was her own.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed to Parliament on Wednesday the tractors which Grace was donating belonged to the state, although he insisted that she was not donating but was “handing over the tractors” at Zanu PF rallies.
Mnangagwa made the confession after being quizzed by opposition legislators.
Apart from the tractors, disc harrows, planters, fertiliser spreaders and knapsack sprayers, Grace has been donating maize which officials said belonged to the state. She has also been donating foodstuffs and clothes whose source of funding is shady.
The donations are largely seen as part of Zanu PF’s patronage system, a vote-buying process and Grace’s desperate bid to endear herself with the electorate as she seeks to build her national profile.