Grace must stop abusing state resources

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FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s abuse of state resources needs to be stopped. It is not only immoral but also sends a wrong signal that it is open season for politicians to siphon state resources to benefit their political parties at the expense of the national interest.

Candid Comment by Faith Zaba

In this case, what makes it unpalatable is not only that the resources are being donated under false pretence that they belong to the party, but also the insinuation is they were acquired by Grace, who is also Zanu PF Women’s League boss.

The state resources are being used to buy votes. To make matters worse, the First Lady blatantly defends this crude form of vote-buying. “They said I am giving people the goods as a way of buying votes,” Grace unashamedly told party supporters at a rally in Rushinga last week.

“Hazvina basa kana ndikakutenda ukandivhotera (It does not matter if I pay you to vote for me), it’s okay. It’s better to vote for someone who gives you something than someone who does not.”

Although Grace is not a government official, she is donating agricultural equipment sourced under a publicly underwritten US$98 million loan facility during her controversial nationwide campaign trail.

So far, Grace has addressed two rallies in Chimanimani, Manicaland, a fortnight ago and the one in Rushinga last week.

Grace is abusing for political gain the loan facility extended to Harare by Brasilia under the Zimbabwe-Brazil More Food for Africa Programme with a tenor of 15 years.

Brazil supplied Zimbabwe with equipment which include 320 tractors, 450 disc harrows and 310 planters valued at US$38,6 million under the first phase of the US$98 million facility commissioned by President Robert Mugabe in May. The First Lady is also donating tonnes of maize which government officials say belong to the state.

This fits very well into the pattern of how Zimbabwe has been misgoverned since 1980. Corruption has been honed to a fine art. Senior Zanu PF and government officials plunder and loot with impunity because there are no consequences for their actions. The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco), Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and several other parastatals have gone to the dogs mainly because of Zanu PF’s propensity to force them to deploy their resources for free to aid party programmes. In 2010, Zupco finally succumbed to years of Zanu PF plunder and abuse, carrying party supporters to political rallies and being forced to ply unprofitable rural routes to appease voters in the countryside.

The trouble is that the state and the party are now conflated. There is no distinction between the two. They are treated as one and the same thing, hence the tendency by the party to abuse state resources with impunity. This unprogressive model of governance has really destroyed the country.

Whether she was handing over or donating as Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa indicated in parliament on Wednesday is immaterial, the abuse of state resources by Zanu PF is unacceptable and must be stopped forthwith. It symbolises misrule.

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