THE US government is reported to have found disciples in Zanu-PF whom it is giving money to fund community projects in their constituencies, a development that has raised eyebrows given the frosty relations between the revolutionary party and Washington which has been fighting to depose Zanu-PF over the years.
At least 12 Zanu-PF parliamentarians are reportedly working with the US Embassy in various initiatives in their constituencies, despite the frosty relations between Washington and Harare.
Although the projects are said to be spearheaded by Non-Governmental Organisations, the legislators were said to be heavily involved in them.
A Zanu-PF Senator privy to the developments described the party’s legislators involved in the project as “the dirty dozen’’ saying even the US itself would neither allow its Congressmen nor Senators to receive funding from hostile governments.
“This is a dirty dozen, disciples of regime change, MPs who shamelessly accepted 30 filthy pieces of silver from the very same Uncle Sam who takes pride in having imposed illegal and evil sanctions that have devastated the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans across the country.
“It is a tragedy that this dirty dozen is either breathtakingly naive or hopelessly treacherous or both to the point of not seeing the harmful consequences of their actions,’’ she charged.
The Political Parties Finace Act criminalises foreign funding of political parties in Zimbabwe.
The US Embassy on Friday last week gave $90 000 in grants to six organisations from the country’s four provinces under the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Programme to enhance community projects.
The US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Bruce Wharton, officially handed over the grant at a signing ceremony held in Harare.
The MPs invited to the event are; comrades Paul Mavhima (Gokwe Sengwa), Walter Kanhanga (Guruve North), Adam Chimwamurombe (Chipinge West), Chriswell Mutematsaka (Guruve South), MP Cde Batsirayi Pemhanayi (Mutare North), Enock Porusingazi (Chipinge West), Tapiwanashe Matangaidze (Shurugwi South), Temba Mliswa (Hurungwe West), Kindness Paradza (Makonde) David Butau (Mbire), Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Uzumba) and another one from Masvingo province whose identity could not be ascertained by the time of going to Press.
Those who attended the signing ceremony are comrades Kanhanga, Chimwamurombe and Mutematsaka while the other nine did not attend the event.
According to sources said: “The nine allegedly felt the venue-US Embassy complex was not a good venue because of too many cameras and spying happening there.”
In an interview yesterday, Cde Kanhanga confirmed that he accepted the invitation and attended the signing ceremony because one of the NGO, Farmer’s Association of Community Self-Help Groups (FACHIG), which received a grant operated in his constituency.
He said FACHIG received $15 000 for community initiatives after it successfully applied for the grant following an advert flighted by the US Embassy in the media inviting those into community projects to apply for funding.
He said the $15 000 would be shared among the 36 people living with HIV and Aids that were selected from the constituency for poultry projects.
Cde Kanhanga denied that the funding of the community initiatives was political motivated and dismissed as cheap politics claims that he was part of the Zanu-PF legislators allegedly working with the US government.
“Everyone is entitled to his opinion,” said Cde Kanhanga adding, “Ndokunonzi kupenga ikoko, that is b****t.”
He said he was invited to the launch of the grant on the grounds that he was the MP for the constituency.
Cde Mutematsaka, who also attended the handover ceremony, said the grant had nothing to do with politics.
“A grant of $15 000 was given to a local NGO to do with the improvement of people living with HIV and Aids called FACHIG,” said Cde Mutematsaka.
He said claims that they were working with US government for regime change agenda were unfounded.
“These are unfounded allegations being peddled by people without correct information,” he said.
He said there were actually 12 Constituencies that have organisations benefiting from the US Embassy grants to steer their community projects.
Cde Porusingazi said although he was invited he did not attend the signing ceremony.
“My constituency had no link with the community projects the Americans are funding,” said Cde Porusingazi.
“The other reason why I did not want to go to the embassy, I wanted to be sure about the intention and purpose linked to the invitation since these people had no activity in my constituency.”
Cde Porusingazi added: “Unless they are working with some implementing partners such as Christian Care, World Vision, Plan International that operate in my constituency I have no business with them (US Embassy).
Cde Chimwamurombe confirmed attending the meeting, adding he did not see anything wrong in participating in the event.
“Two groups in my constituency received the money. Tongogara group through Christian Care received $24 000 and they are going to buy sewing machines, sponsor HIV and AIDS programmes and food security programmes. Musabayana village also received $13 000 and they are buying grinding mills where they will charge Rand 5 per bucket and they want to start a community garden where they will be drying some vegetables for sell,” he said.
He dismissed claims that he was working with the Americans to effect regime change from within.
He said it was pleasing that some NGOs had realised that Zanu-PF was in power and there was need to work local structures.
Cde Mavhima was also invited but did not attend the ceremony.
He said he only saw the invitation on Tuesday because he was out of Harare part of last week on government business.
“I did not go there because my priority is on Government business. Why would I go when I have more pressing Government business,” he said. Cde Mavhima also questioned how an invitation would prove that one was working with somebody.
“It does not make any sense. Whoever is saying that is desperate to tarnish other people’s names and would want to urge such people to do a proper homework before they start making such unfounded, baseless and malicious allegations.”
Cde Matangaidze said; “Yes I was invited. I did not attend because I did not know the organisation which had applied for the grant. I only read about it when It was published in the H Metro.”
Masvingo South PM, Cde Walter Muzembi, said there was one MP from Masvingo province who was invited.
“There is one from the province who was invited, but I have forgotten the name,” he said.
The other ones could not be reached for comment yesterday night.
However, speaking during the handover ceremony, Mr Wharton was quoted as saying the organisations played a critical role in promoting a healthy and prosperous Zimbabwe and commended their efforts to improve the lives of the people within their communities.
“Because of the excellence that you have demonstrated within your communities, we are pleased to announce that you’ll be collectively receiving $90 000 in grant funding from the Ambassador’s special self-help programme,” said Mr Wharton.
According to the report from the US embassy, the legislators who attended the ceremony hailed the US government’s commitment in promoting local community initiatives through funding aimed at enhancing sustainable development in Zimbabwe.