FORMER president Robert Mugabe has surrendered US$24 million held in a private Zanu PF bank account with a local commercial bank which does business with government and the ruling party after his ouster in a military coup last November.
By Owen Gagare
Mugabe had exclusive control of the secret account, which always had millions of dollars.
“After the coup, there were worries that Mugabe would refuse with the account as he was the only signatory to it. However, he was engaged and he agreed to surrender the account which had US$24 million in it,” a senior Zanu PF official said. “He could have refused with it, but he felt that he does not need to act like a rogue leader and just let go. Of course, the account was and is still open to abuse.”
The money added to the ruling party’s staggering war chest of around US$200 million for the do-or-die elections for President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his military backers who toppled Mugabe in a high-risk operation six months ago.
Zanu PF is going for broke. It has bought 15 million T-shirts, 15 million caps and two million body wrappers for women in a bid to win the high-stakes elections whose From outcome is critical to the country’s future.
Although Zanu PF is broke, drowning in debts totalling US$19 million, according to its last Central Committee report, it has managed to raise huge resources from countries like China, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Equatorial Guinea, as well as from companies and individuals who usually fund it to secure their interests. Local companies and individuals also donate to buy protection.
Zanu PF membership card sales, a key stream of revenue for the party, had by last year dropped by a dramatic 73%, due to the party’s internal strife and economic problems. The ruling party even had a US$1,2 million telephone bill.
Party reports show that in the normal course of business, Zanu PF now survives on CBZ Bank overdrafts and handouts.
Zanu PF sources said this week although the party maintains its main account with CBZ, Mugabe, while at the helm, exclusively kept the secret bank account which always had millions of dollars in it for funding campaigns or other party business.
Only a few people, among them former first lady Grace Mugabe and Mnangagwa, knew about the secret account, sources said.
The US$24 million added onto Zanu PF’s massive US$200 million campaign launched at the Harare International Conference Centre last month. Zanu PF insiders and intelligence sources say the party received huge funding from its allies such as China, DRC and Equatorial Guinea.
“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,” officials told the Independent.
The information about Zanu PF funding was gathered recently and this week.
Zanu PF insiders say the security sector is also playing a key role in funding the party’s campaign through a network of secret structures and outlays.
“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 in 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 newspapers. Private companies and individuals have also made contributions on top of the party’s official state funding, sources said.
Zanu PF officials said the party also extensively uses civil servants and security officers to bolster its campaign machinery. In the recent Zanu PF primary elections, there were over 6 500 police officers who were illegally deployed to participate in the elections of the ruling party. There were also 420 government vehicles deployed as well.
“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.”
One official said: “Zec should be forced to declare who the presiding officers and, especially election officers who do the counting, are by publishing their names, their profession and place of work to enable opposition parties and other stakeholders to verify that information so people can know security agents have not been embedded as their officers. The number of election officers required is huge and that must be known and audited before election day.”
Efforts to get comment from party treasurer Patrick Chinamasa were fruitless.