By Alex Bell
06 November 2012
The so called ‘well wishers’ responsible for a multi million dollar farming inputs scheme launched by Robert Mugabe over the weekend, are being accused of helping the regime cling to power.
There are widespread suspicions that the US$20 million Mugabe secured for the farming package is part of a vote-buying strategy for ZANU PF ahead of the next elections. The scheme was launched at the party’s headquarters on Saturday with the party promising to assist ‘disadvantaged’ farmers. The inputs bought with the multi million dollar cash boost, are set to be handed over to rural chiefs to distribute.
The Chiefs’ Council has since appealed to Mugabe to mediate in worsening relations between rural chiefs and ZANU PF officials fighting over the distribution of the farming inputs. Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira has been quoted has saying this week that there are problems in some parts of the country with ZANU PF members undermining the authority of the chiefs in the distribution farming inputs.
The Chief’s concerns have supported the claims that the inputs scheme is part of ZANU PF’s election strategy. Political analyst Professor John Makumbe told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that ZANU PF could use this scheme as an opportunity to buy votes.
“It is quite telling that some of the inputs were distributed from the ZANU PF headquarters, instead of somewhere neutral. The message being sent is that ZANU PF is in election mode and that vote buying is the order of the day,” Makumbe said.
ZANU PF has used this kind of strategy repeatedly over election periods to rig polling results in their favour. For example, the party has politicised food aid schemes countrywide for many years, insisting people must have ZANU PF membership to claim food aid. Also, the land grab campaign launched by Mugabe was a clear reward scheme for his party faithful
“With the elections expected early next year it is obvious that ZANU PF is using the distribution of farming inputs as a way of attracting support and saying they care more than the MDC formations,” Makumbe said.
Questions are also being asked about the source of the US$20 million Mugabe secured for this scheme, which he has attributed to unnamed ‘well wishers’. Observers have commented that these ‘well wishers’ are directly funding an illegal regime, by giving money to support the party’s election campaign.
The unknown sponsors are thought to be foreign governments who have previously supported Mugabe, including China or Iran. The MDC-T meanwhile also pointed the finger closer to home, saying the inputs scheme has confirmed their “assertion that ZANU PF is using money from the Chiadzwa Diamond fields, siphoned through a corruption magnate Obert Mpofu to sponsor a parallel government structure.”
Morgan Tsvangirai’s party also warned that the input scheme is a ZANU PF election exercise.
“That the so- called Presidential input scheme was launched at the ZANU PF headquarters raises an eyebrow, and the generality of Zimbabweans wonder if this is not another vote buying exercise by ZANU PF. It therefore ceases to be a ‘presidential’ input scheme as it is designed to benefit ZANU PF members,” the MDC-T said.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made has revealed that the amount of money needed to fund farming inputs for a successful agricultural sector is forty times more than the amount Mugabe was able to secure. Speaking at the launch of Mugabe’s inputs scheme on Saturday, Made said that US$800 million is needed to buy inputs for the coming season. This news has added more weight to suspicions that Mugabe’s cash boost is a ‘reward scheme’ and not aimed at improving agriculture.