‘White farmers funding Grace rallies’

FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s rallies are reportedly being oiled by funds sourced from the remaining embattled white commercial farmers and businesspeople, NewsDay can exclusively reveal.
white farmer
CHIEF REPORTER

The disclosures came hardly 14 days after the First Lady sensationally claimed that she had refused a $10 million bribe from white commercial farmers at the height of the land reform v
programme which saw seizure of white-owned farms.

But 14 years down the line, Grace’s political career is reportedly being bankrolled by the few remaining white commercial farmers.

The slash fund created to bankroll Grace’s pet project was reportedly being administered by some top army officials working with selected Zanu PF party politburo members (names withheld).

This followed indications by businessman and ex-Zanu PF Mashonaland West chairman Phillip Chiyangwa that Grace’s political meetings were being funded by the private sector and not from the fiscus.

Chiyangwa claimed he was chairing an anonymous committee to raise funds for the First Lady’s whirlwind tour of provinces.

Chiyangwa reportedly said: “I chair the committee on the funding of the First Lady’s programmes. We have sponsors, if there is something that has been said about the money, it’s private money. This is money nobody should even talk to me about, or ask me. These funds will continue to flow until her programme gets to December.”

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba this week refused to disclose Grace’s source of funding, indicating she was a “woman of means”.

Charamba said rallies were not funded by the State, although he could not reveal the source of the funding.

“The First Lady is a woman of means and they have sources of income from their different [business] enterprises. As the First Lady, we look at issues of security, convenience and availability of the plane and these are expenses that ordinarily the First Family would receive. Wherever she goes, private or public, she should have security and her staff and I attend in my capacity to protect the image of the President as her life has an impact on the President,” Charamba told NewsDay on Sunday.

Section 6 (1)(2) of the Political Parties Finances Act forbids political parties from receiving foreign funding.

“No political party, member of a political party or candidate shall accept any foreign donation, whether directly from the donor or indirectly through a third person.”

The section adds: “For the purposes of subsection (1), any donation accepted by a member of a political party shall be deemed to have been accepted by the political party, unless the member wilfully fails to disclose such donation to the political party, in which case the member shall be liable for any contravention of subsection (1).”

According to documents at hand, white commercial farmers in the Mazowe Valley farming area and their connections elsewhere had so far bankrolled political gatherings at Grace’s Mazowe Children’s Home.

Grace recently hosted Zanu PF women and youth leagues, traditional chiefs and church leaders at her Mazowe Children’s Home since she was nominated as the Zanu PF Women’s League secretary-designate in June.

She will take over from Gender minister Oppah Muchinguri.
Until recently, the source of funding to bankroll the Mazowe meetings, and Grace’s ongoing campaign rallies dubbed “Meet the People Tours” had been largely kept under wraps with indications that the rallies were gobbling millions from the fiscus through the use of the Presidential helicopter, among others.

But in confidential correspondence with top officials in the President’s Office (names withheld), the white commercial farmers, calling themselves “The Team”, indicated that they were being coerced by the officials to fund the First Lady’s programmes.

In the communication, the commercial farmers admitted they were on shaky financial footing to finance Grace’s lavish political gatherings hence they had to reach out to “friends” elsewhere for assistance possibly out of fear of losing their farms after President Robert Mugabe’s recently repeated his calls for the removal of the remaining white farmers.

One commercial farmer on August 22 wrote that The Team had received a bill amounting to $6 866,48 from State House, Mugabe’s official residence, and suggesting that they reach out to their friends for donations since they were not in a good financial position.

The “friends” included names of some of the executives at the biggest retail chains in the country, confectionery, fast foods and beverage companies.

“There was some suggestion of dividing the bill $6 886,48, by The Team, but I’m sure most of us are not in a great financial position right now. We agreed to get as many items donated as possible . . . then we can divide the remainder by The Team and (name withheld) will source the balance of the items,” one of the farmers wrote on August 22.

Apart from the list of requirements ranging from cheese, canned drinks, onions, cucumbers, lemon juice, 45kg beef, nine boxes of hake fish and slaughtered goats, among a myriad of other edibles, The Team also presented 1 200 Christian books by Joyce Meyer under three titles — Battlefield of the Mind, Beauty for Ashes and When God When — for the traditional chiefs’ function at Mazowe, but NewsDay could not immediately establish why the books were donated for the traditional chiefs.

On August 21, The Team met at Komani Farm, about 15,5km from Harare, off Golden Stairs Road to deliberate on how they would raise funds and “split out duties” after they had been presented with a bill of quantities for Grace’s meetings from State House, the documents showed.

NewsDay was also reliably informed that some Russian firms had also provided huge sums of money for Grace’s political campaign that could see the ouster of Vice-President Joice Mujuru. Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly lead factions positioning to succeed Mugabe (90) in power.

As if to confirm the allegations, Grace on Monday appeared to fire an indirect salvo at Mujuru, accusing her of being inept and proposing that Mugabe be allowed to choose his deputies than to have those who piggy-backed on him.

An informed official added: “You are talking of white farmers. That is little money. The real money is coming from the Russians, about $3 million to be precise. That is the money that is being used to buy youths to boo top party officials. They talk of a ‘Dirty Dozen’ yet they are using millions of dollars from Russians to divide the party.”

NewsDay yesterday was informed that the same farmers had been ordered to fundraise for Grace’s second last rally in Mashonaland Central province today.

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