by Staff Reporter
HARARE-AS preparations for the 50th birthday bash for President Robert Mugabe’s all-powerful wife, Grace, gather momentum rogue members of ZANU-PF are making a killing from “donations” that they are extorting from individuals and organisations using the fearsome First Lady’s name.
Sources said this week that from as way back as last month, ZANU-PF officials have been carrying out secretive fundraising campaigns to collect “donations” towards the bash, although it is clear that these “donations” have nothing to do with the event to celebrate Grace’s golden jubilee.
“Party members are making a lot of money using the event. They have been collecting “donations” from individuals and corporates but only a portion, if at all, is passed on to the organisers,” one party official said. He added that it had become a tradition over the years for party officials to enrich themselves in this way.
“This time around it is not as serious as in the past following the confusion in the party as well as the fact that some of the these syndicates have been busted because of the on-going factional wars. Most of them are trending more carefully this time around,” the source added.
It has become traditional for members of ZANU-PF party at different levels to go around collecting “donations” both in cash and kind from individuals and corporates ahead of events such as the 21st Movement (President Mugabe’s birthday), Independence and Heroes days celebrations. The same also happens ahead of the ruling party’s conferences and congresses.
Earlier this year, it emerged that members of ZANU-PF had used the same modus operandi make as much as much as $13 million from businesses in donations towards Mugabe’s birthday after diverting cash “donations” to a parallel bank account.
In the past various items collected by ZANU-PF members in this forcible way—including several herds of cattle, fuel and tonnes of sugar—have not been accounted for.
Usually the targets of this extortion racket include the few remaining white commercial farmers, businesses as well as individuals like teachers and other civil servants posted in remote areas.
This week the official organisers of the event, which will culminate with a Fundraising diner dance on July 25, started running advertisements in the media soliciting for “generous cash donations” from well-wishers into an “Amai Grace Mugabe Jubilee” CBZ Bank account.
Read the advert: “Sponsors’ package includes advertising space at the event, five minutes slot on the programme for the major sponsor to profile their organisation, platinum branding for Amai’s table, a seat at Amai’s table, acknowledgement in the programme booklet, logo recognition on adverts and editorial space in the supplement. The purchase of a table entitles the sponsor to invite a total of ten guests.”
Traditionally tables at such events are sold out as Mugabe’s bootlickers try to outdo each other while some hapless corporates are browbeaten into giving various sponsorship packages.
Grace Mugabe, the ZANU-PF Women’s league boss who is a record 41 years younger than her nonagenarian husband, was born on July 23, 1965.