Zanu-PF conference gets under way as Mnangagwa warns of bribes

14 December 2018 - 06:00 By James Thompson
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to open the ruling Zanu-PF's annual conference on Friday.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to open the ruling Zanu-PF's annual conference on Friday.
Image: Reuters

President Emmerson Mnangagwa will on Friday officially open the 17th Zanu-PF annual people’s conference, to be attended by at least 5,000 delegates from across Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa arrived in Bulawayo, the second largest city, in a chartered plane, late on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by his two vice presidents, Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga. They made the trip to Esigodini, 47km south of Bulawayo, where the conference is being held.

Earlier this week Mnangagwa met with various stakeholders in Zanu-PF and was given their proposals. Top of the list was a suggestion to increase the presidential minimum  age limit from 40 to 52, backed by the War Veterans and Women’s League. However, the proposal was on Wednesday opposed by Mashonaland Central.

“Some were against the proposal,” Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson and information, communication technology minister Kazembe Kazembe said.

Held under the theme “Zimbabwe is Open for Business: Peace, Unity towards an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030”, the conference comes at a time when rampant corruption allegations are being levelled against cabinet ministers and some businessman close to power.

Addressing the party’s central committee meeting in Harare on Wednesday, Mnangagwa claimed that some of his ministers were demanding bribes from would-be investors.

“One person told me that he was charged R5m to come see me. He was told three-quarters of the money would go to the president,” he said.

Rampant corruption is also partly blamed for the country’s bad economy. This week the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) said there had been an increase of 26 percent in corruption cases investigated by the body, most of the new cases involving the ruling elite.

“We have recorded nearly 400 cases for investigations compared to the previous year where 294 cases were received,” said the anti-graft body’s deputy chair, Nanette Silukhuni.

Some of the delegates such as Nyanga South National Assembly member and former information, communication technology and cyber security minister Supa Mandiwanzira arrive at the conference with fraud charges hanging over their heads.

Mandiwanzira is accused of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly engaged South African firm Megawatt Company to provide services to NetOne (the state-run mobile phone network operator) without going to tender.

Being the first conference after coming to power through military assistance in November last year and winning a disputed poll on July 30, Mnangagwa still faces a legitimacy test.

But early this week he told the same central committee meeting that power was firmly with Zanu-PF.

“They (MDC Alliance) challenged the election results at the Constitutional Court (Concourt) and lost,” he roared, adding that Zanu PF would not negotiate a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition.