ZANU PF will today launch a momentous US$200 million general elections campaign at the Harare International Conference Centre amid revelations that several foreign governments, struggling parastatals as well as slush funds and investments from the security establishment will illegally contribute to the massive war chest.
By Owen Gagare
President Emmerson Mnangagwa will preside over the ceremony which will be attended by party leaders from the politburo down to the district level, the party’s parliamentary and local government candidates as well as traditional chiefs. The chiefs are, however, supposed to be non-partisan in terms of the constitution.
Zanu PF insiders say Mnangagwa will anchor his campaign on a reformist agenda building on his ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra. Government is re-engaging the international community, development partners, investors, creditors and funders to rescue the sinking economy.
Under the re-engagement plan, government has also been talking to multi-lateral institutions and members of the Paris Club seeking fresh funding, although the funders and influential members of the international community are insisting Zanu PF should first deliver free and fair elections as well as introduce reforms and a new economic plan before getting new money.
The party is also committing itself to fighting corruption and ensuring that there is infrastructural development, while also improving on social service delivery.
Zanu PF insiders said the party has received huge funding from the Chinese who have also helped fund its previous campaigns. The Democratic Republic of Congo, sources said, had contributed millions, while the Equatorial Guinea government and its First Family also chipped in.
“Part of the money above caters for vehicles, bicycles, motorbikes and campaign regalia such as T-shirts, caps, cloth wraps, flags, wrist bangles and other material such as torches, kitchenware and sewing machines,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
Zanu PF insiders also revealed the security sector will also play a key role in funding the party’s campaign.
“There are slush funds from Treasury and security investments. This is key and includes paying for party candidates’ nomination fees, allowances for polling agents. There will be three agents per polling station: one inside, one outside and for relieving either the one inside or the one outside. The fourth is paid for by the party or candidate and that, too, is from donated funds,” a source said. “The security was also used to purchase vehicles for each of the 210 constituency candidates, 60 senatorial candidates and 60 women’s quota candidates.
“They did that from slush funds from Treasury and security investments. This complements the party’s funds, but is more active this year and is catering for all expenses for operational budgets. There are over 5 000 soldiers deployed countrywide.
“There are also special operations and all of them are cash-based and the money is coming directly from Treasury. Other operations include online (social media) engagement which is extensive this year and involves one country in the Middle East and another Eastern Europe.”
Parastatals have also been forced to donate cash and supplies and the resources will be used mostly for media campaigns on radio, television and print media. Private companies and individuals have also made contributions on top of the party’s official state funding, sources said.
Zanu PF officials also said the party intends to extensively use civil servants and security officers as it had done in previous elections to oil its campaign machinery.
“Some civil servants will be working for the party, but will be paid by government. Government departments will also be utilised for logistics and will provide vehicles and fuel in some cases,” a government official said.
“Security officers will be deployed at every polling station, like in previous elections. They will be disguised as polling or election officers and will be given Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) badges and identification. Their job is to monitor voting details and trends.”
Another official noted security officers will be assigned to do all sorts of dirty jobs, including stuffing ballot boxes if necessary in polling stations where the opposition has incompetent or no election agents.
“This involves security agents in civilian clothes and is a major cost item and the source of ‘rigging’ in the sense of manipulating the voting process in favour of Zanu PF. Many of these are recruited as Zec officers.
“They do all sorts of things such as under-counting of votes of the opposition (where the piles are supposed to be 10-10, the opposition pile can have 15 votes counted as 10; conversely there can be over-counting of Zanu PF votes where a pile of seven is counted as 10.”
In the just-ended Zanu PF primary elections, more than 6 500 police officers were unconstitutionally and illegally deployed to participate in party processes.
Zanu officials said 420 government vehicles were also deployed for the elections, while government fuel and other public resources would be used illegally.