Mugabe’s interface rallies sabotaged?

HARARE – A storm is brewing in the ruling Zanu PF party amid suspicions by members of its youth league that the so-called factionalists could be sabotaging President Robert Mugabe’s youth interface rallies in spite of their success.

Mugabe is currently going around the country’s 10 political provinces to address youths and get to hear their grievances.

Dubbed “youth interface rallies”, the Zanu PF leader has addressed four of them and will be heading to Chinhoyi on Saturday for his fifth rally.

While the interface rallies have been well-attended, some within the Zanu PF youth league are convinced that the turnout could have even been better.

During Mugabe’s rally in Lupane on Friday last week, the party’s youth secretary for the commissariat, Innocent Hamandishe, pointed an accusing finger at senior officials in Zanu PF for sabotaging the rallies.

“President, I want to bring it to your attention that we are having problems in getting the necessary support in terms of resources such as fuel, transport and other logistics for our programmes,” he said.

“We cannot even get access to all the vehicles that the party bought and we are wondering what crime we committed as the youth league,” added Hamandishe.

Zanu PF is presently divided along two factions — Generation 40 and Team Lacoste — that are both angling to position a candidate who will succeed Mugabe.

Because of the divisions caused by the factional fights, it has been difficult for Mugabe to unite his party, even as the country hurtles towards crunch elections next year.

As broke as it is, Zanu PF recently bought 320 vehicles, including off-road trucks, sedans and hatchbacks that have been branded with the ruling party’s colours and have been given to the party provincial structures.

There is, however, opaqueness on the source of funding for Zanu PF projects, with the opposition alleging that the ruling party is using its muscle to commandeer struggling parastatals to finance its rallies before next year’s elections.

It is now emerging that even the Zanu PF youths are not happy with how the vehicles are being allocated, amid suspicions that those in control of these assets may be sabotaging their programmes.

Zanu PF enjoys the power of incumbency and the opposition accuses it of using State resources to finance its programmes.

During the youth interface rallies, Mugabe usually travels by air to the venues while his ministers travel by road.

While these are classified as party activities, it is the government which meets the attendant costs.

These gatherings are also funded from donations from well-wishers and companies, many of which are struggling due to the tough economic situation.

During his youth engagements, Mugabe’s visits are usually preceded by a flurry of activities, including the filling up of potholed roads and refurbishments of dilapidated buildings with the costs being met by government and local authorities.

Ahead of Mugabe’s visit to Chinhoyi on Saturday, the party has mobilised 40 000 litres of fuel to be used to transport Zanu PF supporters to the venue of the interface rally.

Contacted for comment, Zanu PF secretary for youth Kudzanai Chipanga referred questions to the party’s spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, whose mobile phone was switched off.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu alleged this week that some of the money used by Zanu PF comes from the illicit sale of diamonds and other precious minerals.

“We have always stated, rightly so, that the Zanu PF regime is a fully-fledged Mafia outfit. Like in all Mafia organisations, there are always shadowy and opaque ways and means of financing operations,” said Gutu.

“There are credible reports that the Zanu PF regime is actually dealing in illicit oil secured from some parts of the Middle East.

“This is a very well-organised and well-financed scheme that involves international business tycoons who are benefiting from the looting of Zimbabwe’s precious minerals and wildlife,” he said.