The ruling Zanu PF party is spending a fortune to retain power at the forthcoming polls, with millions of elusive hard currency having been spent on top-of-the-range vehicles, advertising and campaign material to oil its poll campaign that has probably broken all records in terms of its financing.
For the second time, the Daily News can reveal that all Zanu PF candidates aspiring for seats in the National Assembly will each be given an all-terrain vehicle and a montage of regalia for distribution to party supporters.
Hundreds of campaign vehicles are currently awaiting clearance at the country’s borders, with the party’s transport committee burning the midnight oil to ensure they reach their recipients in good time.
The National Assembly comprises 210 legislators and 80 senators.
Zanu PF might have spent upwards of $60 million, assuming that each vehicle costs $40 000.
This is at a time when the country is struggling to meet critical payments for items such as drugs, fuel and machinery for industry due to foreign currency shortages.
More campaign material, among them T-shirts and bandanas, are on their way from India and China.
Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News yesterday that the party has built a war chest using generous donations from its traditional allies and business people who are hedging their bets ahead of the elections, slated for July 30.
They said the Communist Party of China, considered by Zanu PF to be an all-weather friend, and corporates thirsting for the country’s resources, were bankrolling the ruling party’s campaign although this could not be independently verified at the time of going to print.
Other traditional allies listed as having injected resources into Zanu PF’s well-oiled campaign machinery, include the Equatorial Guinea—whose President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has a close security unit comprising soldiers from Zimbabwe.
Nguema was recently in Zimbabwe.
Not to be left out, some local businessmen have also chipped in, including parastatals.
Carrying on with former president Robert Mugabe’s politics of patronage, the so-called new dispensation recently bought more than 226 cars for traditional leaders.
The party has a fleet of Ford Fiestas, Ford Ranger trucks, and buses, whose source of funding has largely remained a mystery.
Critics have condemned Zanu PF’s misplaced priorities, saying it was tragic that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration does not see anything wrong with its vote buying gimmicks when the majority of the population are wallowing in poverty.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the primary source of Zanu PF’s funds was the scourge of state-party conflation.
“Secondly, their all-weather friends such as China can be part of their financiers given that even the infamous scarf was printed and produced from there. Individuals in Zanu PF are rich after four decades of plundering national resources. So they can also fund anything,” he said.
Saungweme said the opposition was already at a disadvantage in terms of resources, saying it cannot compete with Zanu PF on the basis of funding but ideas and good manifesto.
Stephen Chan, another political analyst, said it was highly improbable that Zanu PF could be getting foreign funding; cautioning the opposition to be careful of sounding like the ruling party which alleged in days gone by that the MDC was financed by foreigners.
“Having said that, there are real questions to be asked about government monies being diverted towards party purposes: Insofar as much of the money is being spent on transport costs, yes, this will give Zanu PF some advantages in covering ground for rallies and meetings in all parts of Zimbabwe,” said Chan, a professor of World Politics at the London School of Oriental and African Studies.
“Insofar as it is spent on glossy advertising, which is seen largely in urban areas, it will have no effect on voting. People will make up their own minds about whether a partial break from Mugabe-ism is enough, or whether they want a full break. That is why the rumours of Chamisa flirting with Mugabe representatives were very counterproductive to the image he needs to present as the truly full break from the past,” added Chan.
Across the country, billboards of a grinning Mnangagwa occupy strategic spaces along major roads and in central business districts of Zimbabwe’s towns and cities.
The opposition has clearly been dwarfed by Zanu PF because of lack of funding to run a decent election campaign.