LEADER of a fringe political party, New Innovative Modernisation Front (NIMF), Tendai Peter Munyanduri has defended his decision to accept an Isuzu D-Max vehicle from the government, arguing it was his constitutional right.
The little-known party was formerly known as the Progressive Innovative Movement of Zimbabwe (PIMZ) before re-branding recently.
Munyanduri contested in the 2018 presidential elections garnering a paltry 5 000 votes.
However, he has showered praises to President Emmerson Mnangagwa for extending an olive branch to opposition political formations so they could participate in nation-building.
“As an opposition party, we cannot ignore Mnangagwa’s positive strategy to bring everyone to the negotiating table through the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) where we can advise his government,” Munyanduri told NewZimbabwe Sunday.
“The platform is comprised of people from diverse backgrounds, qualifications, and competencies such as engineers, accountants, pastors, among others. This enables Mnangagwa to tap from a rich pool of wisdom.”
Asked whether he was benefiting from an illegal entitlement as the Political Finance Act dictates that only parties that garnered 5% of total votes in a general election were entitled to state funding, Munyanduri responded: “ln actual fact the Act is flawed and needs to be repealed or reviewed because if other political parties are not funded this would be tantamount to financial rigging of elections.
“This is not the case in supposed mature democracies like America where all contestants are financed. Therefore, we need to align this law to modern trends.”
The NIMF president then took a dig at fellow opposition leader, MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa who has snubbed POLAD for being “arrogant and unaccommodating.”
“I believe dialogue is the panacea to the political polarisation we have in Zimbabwe. Therefore, Chamisa who has this arrogance and immaturity has to swallow his pride and come to the talking table. Personally, l have tried reaching out to him on six occasions. l have visited his offices with the intention to dialogue but my overtures were spurned.”
Chamisa’s supporters, he claimed, were at the forefront of denigrating beneficiaries of Mnangagwa’s car scheme, forgetting POLAD was providing critical professional advisory services to Mnangagwa and his Cabinet ministers.
“There is nothing amiss in accepting this car from Mnangagwa because it will empower our party as all along mobility to reach different provinces was problematic. Besides, just like parliamentarians, POLAD principals are professionals advising government, so it’s like a company vehicle.”
Munyanduri, an electrical engineer at the national power utility ZESA, in 2013 contested and lost the Kadoma Central parliamentary seat in what he termed a “test marketing” phase for his political outfit.
Last week, Mnangagwa doled out 19 double-cab vehicles to POLAD principals and three others to the formation’s secretariat.
Critics have viewed the move as rewarding treachery.
Top lawyer and university lecturer Alex Magaisa the purchase of the vehicles was a breach of the Political Parties (Finance) Act.
“Government spending public funds to buy vehicles for the co-opted losers in POLAD is arguably a breach of the Political Parties (Finance) Act because it is disguised as financing of ineligible political parties. None of them qualify to receive public funding under the legislation,” he said.
“Under the law, the minimum qualification for a party to receive public funding is that it must have earned at least 5% of the total number of votes cast in the previous election. None of the POLAD parties are eligible. Only two parties qualified in 2018: Zanu PF and MDC Alliance.”
He outlined the highest of the POLAD parties was the now-disbanded Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T which got a paltry 3, 42% of the national vote.
The National Patriotic Front (NPF) had 1, 04% while the rest, including Lovemore Madhuku’s National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) had less than 1%.
“The vehicle scheme is an abuse of public funds to reward co-opted politicians. What’s the point of the political financing law if public funds can be channeled to the undeserving through POLAD? There are good legal grounds to challenge this breach and abuse of public funds,” added Magaisa.