Takunda Maodza: Assistant News Editor
A demonstration against bond notes flopped dismally last Friday after senior #tag activists allegedly bankrolled by USAID-linked PACT looted money that was meant for logistics, it has emerged. There is now serious discord within the #tag movement after other activists reportedly snubbed the demonstrations over the money.Organisers of the demo, dubbed “Munhu Wese Muroad” (Everyone to the Streets) were the National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe led by Sten Zvorwadza, Partson Dzamara and Silvanos Mudzvova of #Tajamuka, who did not show up at the open space where they had advised people to gather.
A reliable source close to the shadowy Internet-domiciled organisations told The Herald yesterday it is believed the aforementioned donors put in between $50 000 and $100 000 to entice the activists to demonstrate against Government’s plans to introduce the bond notes to alleviate the current cash challenges.
“The money came from an organisation called PACT – a conduit for USAID. They fund a number of local social movements and pressure groups. For the Friday demos they were given amounts believed to range between $50 000 and $100 000 for communication, mobilisation and logistics. The money found its way into the pockets of a few individuals and other activists are now furious that they are being used to fatten other people’s pockets,” said the source.
Added the source: “The problem is that these #tags are Internet-based and they do not have organograms – no structures to whom they are accountable. Donors deal with individuals. It is surprising that the donors keep advancing money to organisations without structures to talk of. #ThisFlag has no organogram, Occupy Africa Unity Square has no organogram, and #Tajamuka has no organogram.
All the social movements are internet-based and use their popularity there to milk donors. In fact, they have successfully hoodwinked the donors by the popularity they get on internet and the media. Under such scenario it is easy for the individual to pocket the money and no questions are asked like what happened last Friday.”
The source said jobless senior activists associated with these social movements were “living large buying cars, marrying and building houses” from donor funds. Yesterday Mr Zvorwadza claimed they got funding from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora whom he did not name. He struggled to deny reports of foreign funding.
“Our demo was funded by Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora. They contribute the little they have, some $1, $2, $5 and others $10. Citizens fund what they can afford. We have refused funding from elsewhere. We have no relationship with PACT or any foreign embassy. If foreigners were to give us $1 million we would report them to Government,” said Mr Zvorwadza.
He claimed Friday’s demo failed “because our leaders were abducted and others arrested”. He had earlier indicated that he was the chief organiser of Friday’s failed demonstration. He confirmed that Tajamuka communicated last minute that it was pulling out of the demonstrations without giving reasons.
“It shocked us that they withdrew last minute. I think someone wants to destabilise the social movement,” said Mr Zvorwadza.
Zimbabwe People First spokesman Jealousy Mawarire commented on the same issue on Twitter, saying: “My investigations reveal there was a pervasive smell of $100k that inadvertently became source of division among the demo organisers. Money!”
“Organisers should be transparent & tell us where $100k came from, how they used it & why #Tajamuka wasn’t part 2 demo”.