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Deep In Red, Harare Ruling Party Solicits Funds For Annual Conference

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has come under fire for demanding donations of cash, cattle or maize from civil servants, farmers and businesses to help finance the party’s annual conference to be held in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East, in December.

The unwelcome solicitations have been organized by by Rural Housing Minister Joe Biggie Matiza, also finance secretary for ZANU-PF's Mashonaland East organization. The conference will be held at a school in Goromonzi, 40 kilometers from Harare.

Business sources including bank executives who spoke on condition that they not be named, said they have been pressured by ZANU-PF to make cash donations.

ZANU-PF insiders said party finances are in bad shape because companies controlled by the political organization, such as Zidco Holdings, M&S Syndicate, First Banking Corporation, Jongwe Printers and Treger Holdings, are deep in the red.

U.S. and European sanctions may have had something to do with this. M&S in 2004 was placed on a list of sanctioned Zimbabwean businesses which are denied access to the U.S. financial system, among other so-called targeted sanctions.

An investigation by ZANU-PF Finance Secretary David Karimanzira and ex-finance Minister Simba Makoni was launched upon receipt of a damning external audit which cited serious problems in party finances. Political Commissar Elliot Manyika declined to comment on the probe or donation requests, referring all questions to Matiza.

For commentary and perspective on the ruling party's solicitation of funds, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to human rights lawyer Jacob Mafume, who is also coordinator of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...