Opposition political parties have said the government’s recent move to give chiefs brand new Isuzu double cab vehicles is a clear indication that Zanu PF is preparing the machinery for a “ruthless” election campaign.
Despite public pronouncements by Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, that there were no funds to procure vehicles for chiefs which amounted to $14 million, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, on Saturday, handed over the first batch of vehicles during a meeting with the traditional leaders in Gweru.
“The allocation of Isuzu vehicles to chiefs by Mnangagwa is not a sign of benevolence or kindness, but it is part of Zanu PF ruthless campaign machinery. Zanu PF has got weak structures on the ground and they are trying to use chiefs to coerce people to vote for them,” said MDC –T Secretary General, Douglas Mwonzora, in an interview.
Mwonzora accused the Mnangagwa administration of following in the footsteps of his predecessor Robert Mugabe whose government was routinely accused of using state resources to buy votes.
The President of Economic Reform Assembly (ERA), Amos Dangwa, said while it is was a noble idea to give chiefs vehicles to carry out their constitutional mandate his party strongly condemned the move. He said the gesture was not done in the spirit of honesty and genuine interests of the chiefs.
“To start with, President Mnangagwa being only a few days into office announced that all cars that had been bought by the previous government for chiefs would be distributed among government departments. A few weeks down the line, the cars are allocated to the chiefs. Nothing on the ground has changed that warrants chiefs to be given new cars save the fact that there will be elections in a few months’ time.
We strongly believe that buying chiefs cars at a time when we are facing elections is a way of tooling chiefs, bribing them as well as getting them ready to campaign for Zanu PF,” said Dangwa.
The ERA president said Zimbabwe has got more pressing issues that urgently need the scarce foreign currency such as service delivery, infrastructure development and capital injection into the ailing industries.
“The biggest question we are all left with is: did we even have a budget for the purchase of these cars? This shows that Zanu PF is not yet reformed in anyway. It only changed guard and it will continue with the clueless management of the economy,” added Dangwa.
Zapu spokesperson, Ipithule Maphosa, said the money channelled towards the procuring of the vehicles should have been allocated to the setting up of provincial councils.
“Zapu is surprised that this government is prioritising the purchasing of luxury vehicles for chiefs yet there are still important outstanding constitutional obligations such as the setting up of provincial councils and the revival of Bulawayo industries. This clearly shows that the government does not prioritise development,” said Maphosa.