Zanu PF, which is struggling to raise money for its 16th national conference to be held in Masvingo, has turned to struggling parastatals and the private sector to fund its December meeting.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The party has invited corporates to dine with President Robert Mugabe and his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe aimed at fundraising for the annual event.
Zanu PF is offering corporates a whopping $100 000 for 10 people on a platinum table and has set five gold tables each going for $50 000.
Silver tables and bronze tables are going for $30 000 and $10 000 each, respectively, for the November 4 dinner, which will be held at a local hotel, as part of the conference fundraising activities, much to the chagrin of labour movements.
The party’s secretary for finance, Obert Mpofu, declined to disclose the fundraising target, but last year the event cost over $3 million.
Zanu PF is also selling exhibition stands for companies at its conference. The space has in the previous years been taken up by struggling parastatals, ministries and companies linked to Zanu PF.
Exhibitors are expected to part with $10 000 for a six-metre by three-metre exhibition stand and half the price for the space at the conference, where ministers are the major buyers.
A businessman, who declined to be named, said the dinner was too ambitious given the economic environment and as a result it was an insult to struggling companies.
“Paying $100 000 just for 10 people to have dinner is just ridiculous in this depressed economy, where just meeting the salary bill is a nightmare. Either Zanu PF is from another planet or they will just force parastatals to buy the tickets so that they impress Mugabe,” he said.
Last year, a similar dinner flopped and was largely subscribed to by loss-making parastatals after blue-chip companies shunned it.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general, Japhet Moyo said it was sad that companies would shell out $100 000 to pay for a dinner table because of the patronage system and not use that money to recapitalise.
“I can’t even believe that they are entities that can spare that kind of money to buy dinner instead of retooling.
If the money is used for patronage purposes, how many jobs will one save or create by eating dinner for $100 000 instead of buying machines?
“You will find that most of these companies are failing to pay salaries and, when such money is being used to fund political parties instead of the core business, we become worried as a labour movement,” he said.