ZANU PF legislators and aspiring MPs in Bulawayo are sweating to raise US$600 each in “subscription fees” demanded by the party for the past five years.
By Nkululeko Sibanda
Sitting legislators who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week said the demand was unrealistic and outrageous, as they were faced with financial challenges due to the current economic problems characterised by a chronic liquidity crunch and cash shortages.
“We had just come from submitting our CVs (curriculum vitae) at Davies Hall (Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial offices), but we were shocked to be told that we have to pay US$600 each for the last five years or we will not be able to contest in the party’s primaries,” one MP complained. “Should this happen, we will be unable to seek re-election in our constituencies during the forthcoming general elections.”
Another legislator said the move was unacceptable, as this now amounted to a ploy by the provincial leadership to elbow them out of their seats, so as to impose preferred candidates or those with money.
Zanu PF is expected to fight for its parliamentary dominance against a resurgent MDC Alliance and motley groupings of fringe political parties involved in the polls.
“This is a very clear strategy of exclusion,” the MP said.
“They want us to fail to pay so that they can they put their own people in our constituencies. They know that most of us are unable to pay such amounts and they see this as an opportunity to sneak in their friends and allies.”
Checks by the Independent showed that most of the legislators were relying on parliamentary allowances for their sustenance. Some of them have no independent means of survival, making the allowances their only source of livelihood.
“If you check, most of these MPs are unemployed. Some of them are retired; others are ex-liberation fighters. They have been relying on parliamentary allowances to sustain their lives and families. Now if you ask them to pay US$600, they can’t afford that,” a senior Zanu PF official in Bulawayo said.
“The party’s commissariat needs to carefully look at this issue and resolve it otherwise the party will lose elections here because of these electoral barriers and effectively imposed or moneyed candidates.”
In an interview yesterday, Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial secretary for administration, Elphas Mashaba, said the money being demanded from the legislators was not exclusively from them alone but all party members. He added the money was part of a systems re-introduction programme at the party.
“It is funny that some people see this as a ploy to exclude them from their seats,” Mashaba said.
“What we have done as a party is that we have said in Bulawayo, for instance, we need to put in place administrative systems. These are necessary systems for the functionality of the party.
“Part of the systems require that members update their membership. For all general members, for example, one is expected to pay one dollar per month, which is US$12 a year, hence US$60 for the last five years.
“For other senior provincial members, those in the politburo and central committee members, the monies differ according to the different levels and positions one occupies; that is how we get US$600, which covers the last five years.”
Mashaba said payment of subscription fees by party members was a show of commitment to the party. He said those that would have failed to pay the subscriptions would be dealt with according to the party’s laid down procedures.
“We have a circular from the party’s commissariat which deals with these issues. Anyone who fails to pay will have to be dealt with through provisions in the circular.
Disqualification of any candidate on the basis of failing to pay his or her subscription is something that we will have to look at as a party, but in line with the dictates of the circular from the administration department.”