LOSS-MAKING parastatals were once again forced to fork out money to contribute to the cash-strapped Zanu PF’s fundraising activities, including dinners in Harare and Bulawayo, which raised three times more than the targetted US$3 million for the party’s annual conference that begins on Monday in Victoria Falls, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
According to the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri, most of Zimbabwe’s parastatals, which are a perennial burden to the fiscus, are technically insolvent and making huge loses largely because of extended periods of mismanagement, cronyism and corruption.
The state-owned enterprises, despite being a hole in the fiscus with taxpayers bearing the brunt of their inefficiencies, have been pouring in money to government and Zanu PF party events.
Zanu PF also extended its begging bowl to prominent businesspeople who also attended two fundraising dinners in Harare and Bulawayo, sources said.
The conference will be held in Victoria Falls from December 7 to 13 and over 6 000 delegates are expected to attend.
The ruling party held fundraising dinners on November 6 in Harare and Bulawayo on November 27 where a target of US$3 million was set.
The most expensive table at the dinner cost US$100 000 while the cheapest cost US$10 000.
Last month’s dinner in the capital was addressed by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Zanu PF had hoped to raise no less than US$2 million, while the balance would come from provinces and other party-related business enterprises.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko was guest of honour at the fundraising dinner in Bulawayo.
Zanu PF sources said Energy minister Samuel Undenge marshalled US$700 000 from parastatals within his ministry to finance the conference while the Mines and Home Affairs ministries injected US$100 000 each to buy a platinum table at the party’s annual junket.
“Parastatals will be the main sponsors of the conference. Minister Undenge’s ministry, through various parastatals, is among the major financiers of the event,” a source involved in the fundraising said.
Undenge is in charge of struggling entities such as the country’s power utility Zesa, which is owed US$1 billion in unpaid bills.
Sakunda Petroleum owner Kuda Tagwirei, sources said, paid US$100 000 for the platinum table, while his energy firm, which was acquired by South Africa’s Puma Petroleum donated US$200 000.
Zanu PF secretary for finance Obert Mpofu said he was “overwhelmed” by the support he received from the fundraising initiatives in Harare, adding that all the country’s nine provinces had raised their allotted US$50 000 ahead of the conference.
He, however, declined to reveal the identity of the key sponsors.
The conference’s host province, Matabeleland North, is expected to raise at least US$100 000 towards the conference.
“We have had a successful fundraising initiative and exceeded our budget target. We have never seen such a response since we resorted to dinners to raise money for our events,” Mpofu said.
“The money we raised from dinners exceeded targets by three times and what’s exciting is the overwhelming response we had from Bulawayo. We have never had a fundraising event in Bulawayo. The dinner was oversubscribed.”
The sources said Mpofu is now under pressure from party workers across the country who feel he should channel the surplus proceeds from the fundraising initiatives to pay annual bonuses.
He, however, said the party had engaged professional auditors to account for each and every dollar raised.