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Continuing Annual Conference, Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF Takes Up Economy

A report presented at the ZANU-PF conference said party finances are stretched, with expenditures of US$6 million so far in 2011 and revenues of just US$4 million, a gap being covered by bank overdrafts

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party continued its annual conference on Friday in Bulawayo as ministers from the party addressed economic issues including the controversial indigenization or economic empowerment program and farming.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, Youth and Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda addressed the approximately 6,000 party members gathered at the trade fair grounds.

Reports said Sibanda denounced party insiders whose conversations with US Embassy officials have been made public by the Wikileaks website.

But ZANU-PF National Chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo denied Sibanda brought up the embarrassing Wikileaks, saying his speech touched on "constructive" issues.

Khaya-Moyo said that in response to the speeches by ministers, various committees will make recommendations Saturday before the conference ends with a musical gala.

Elsewhere, a report presented at the conference revealed that the party is financially strapped and dependent on overdrafts from banks. The party spent about US$6 million in 2011, but brought in revenues of only US$4 million for a substantial deficit.

Political analysts and economists meanwhile said they were baffled as to why President Robert Mugabe in his keynote speech on Thursday called the present national unity government undemocratic and illegitimate, and demanded new elections.

Party sources said only a few hardliners are pushing hare for elections.

Commenting, economist Rejoice Ngwenya said ZANU-PF can only plunder the Marange diamond field to fund the election campaign it says it will soon launch.