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Mugabe's home

There appears to be some division in the ruling Zanu PF party with indications that some top party officials want the late former president Robert Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion to be converted into a museum while others are pushing for the property to be transferred to Mugabe’s family.

Barely 24 hours after Mugabe’s burial in Zvimba communal lands, ZBC News Online quoted party information secretary Obert Mpofu as saying the Blue roof will be set aside to benefit the party instead of the Mugabes.

A post on the state-controlled news organization’s Facebook page and Twitter handle indicated that the party wants to fully control the Blue Roof in Harare’s upmarket Borrowdale suburb.

“ZANU PF Secretary for Administration, Dr. Obert Mpofu, says the ruling party is considering converting the Blue Roof residence into a Museum or a Monument that will benefit the party,” read the message posted Monday.

An hour later, the Ministry of Information also issued a message on its Twitter account, showing that only President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the power to make a concrete decision on the ownership of the property.

“Both Zanu PF and the govt are led by one principal, President @edmnangagwa. His position regarding properties which are due to be transferred to the family of the late Cde RG Mugabe is that he will honour the commitments he made. Those properties will be transferred as planned,” read the tweet.

Contacted for comment, Mpofu said Information Secretary Nick Mangwana has sorted out the conflicting reports over the transfer of the Blue Roof to the Mugabe family.

“Mangwana (Nick) has sorted out that issue. Get in touch with him.”

Mangwana and presidential spokesperson George Charamba were not responding to calls on their mobile phones.

Independent political commentator Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo said the conflicting reports over the fate of the Blue Roof “is an indication that there is a rift between Zanu PF officials on the transfer of the property following the burial of Mugabe in Zvimba communal lands instead of the National Heroes Acre. The party officials are fuming over this issue.”

Believe Gaule of the ruling Zanu PF party told VOA Studio 7 in a live broadcast that the burial of Mugabe in Zvimba communal lands, Mashonaland West province, showed that the Mugabes are not thankful for what the government did for the late former president whose health costs while in Singapore were catered for by the Zimbabwean government.

“They are behaving in a very bad way. They agreed that Mugabe will be laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre but changed their minds and buried him at a private function in Zvimba. This is rubbish. They should never have done this.”

Zanu PF on Saturday blasted the Mugabes for laying to rest the late former president in Zvimba, saying the decision was “unfortunate”.

The party noted that “the former president was the founding father of this nation and trivializing his remains by scandalously throwing it from pillar to post, particularly after an amicable agreement had been reached with the family that his remains will be interred at the National Shrine is belittling the later revolutionary icon.”

FILE: A man in Harare holds bondnotes issued by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Oct. 15, 2018. The introduction of bond notes - a currency Zimbabwe started printing two years ago to ease the situation -- has not helped. (C.Mavhunga/VOA)

MacDonald Dzirutwe

* Mnangagwa under pressure to deliver change

* Wants to unlock lending from G7 countries

* IMF criticises economic, political progress

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that Zimbabwe needed to intensify reform efforts and meaningfully improve transparency, as the government faces growing criticism over its commitment to delivering economic and political change.

The warning came the same day that the Financial Times reported that the IMF had privately warned Zimbabwe that state payouts to local company Sakunda Holdings were undermining trust in the economy.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s opponents say the government is reverting to the authoritarian tendencies seen under former leader Robert Mugabe, who died early this month, by clamping on dissent. They also criticise Mnangagwa for presiding over soaring prices and shortages of foreign currency and fuel that have sparked anger among a restive population.

Mnangagwa and senior officials say they are doing their best to lay the foundations for future growth and blame Western sanctions for hampering recovery and deterring investment.

“Policy actions are urgently needed to tackle the root causes of economic instability and enable private-sector led growth,” the IMF said in a statement, after visiting Harare this month to review progress on a staff-monitored programme.

The programme doesn’t involve IMF loans, but the Zimbabwean government hopes it can help unlock future lending from countries in the G7 group of world powers.

The IMF added: “The key challenge is to contain fiscal spending consistent with non-inflationary financing and tighten monetary policy to stabilise the exchange rate and start rebuilding confidence in the national currency.”

The FT report said payouts to Sakunda, a fuel company owned by an ally of Mnangagwa, were equivalent to the central bank printing money.

A source with knowledge of the Sakunda transactions told Reuters the IMF had raised a red flag over the central bank’s preferential treatment of $366 million of Treasury bills issued to Sakunda in January.

Zimbabwe, which adopted the U.S. dollar as legal tender in 2009, launched a transitional currency in February and converted all its domestic foreign-currency debt to local currency at a ratio of 1:1. But Sakunda’s bills remained denominated in U.S. dollars, the source added.

Sakunda then redeemed $330 million of the bills in July and was paid more than 3 billion Zimbabwe dollars by the central bank, according to the source.

Last week, the company used some of the money to buy dollars on the black market, devaluing the local currency by 23%, said the source and two currency traders. The central bank ordered banks to freeze the accounts of the company and three other businesses, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

A parliamentary audit committee is currently investigating Sakunda’s involvement in agriculture financing.

Calls and messages to Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya’s mobile phone went unanswered on Thursday, while Sakunda chief operating officer Mberikwazvo Chitambo did not respond to emailed questions and phone messages.

George Guvamatanga, permanent secretary at the ministry of finance and economic development, said the FT report and the comments by the source were without merit. He said: “These reports circulating are unfounded and malicious.” (Additional reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrea Ricci)

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