THE ruling Zanu PF has been using the mining sector over the years to fund its election campaigns, giving it an advantage over the opposition, a new report has shown.
Zimbabwe is heading to the polls, with Zanu PF pouring resources into areas that have long been held by the opposition. In some areas, the ruling party through its affiliate, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), has been under fire for fomenting confusion to destabilise the opposition.
The shadowy group, led by the Central Intelligence Organisation, has planted double and sometimes triple parallel candidates to those put forward by the Chamisa-led party, in what critics say is a ploy calculated to split the opposition vote.
Zanu PF has been under fire for milking the mining sector to fund its election bid. 2008 election According to a report titled “The Nexus Between Violence and Mining”, by human rights organisations ZimRights, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (The Forum) and Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), Zanu PF has been using big mining companies to fund its election campaign.
In 2008, the party was under fire for taking advantage of lack of transparency around mining deals, to fund its violent electoral bid.
This is despite there being a constitutional provision, section 315 (2) (c), which requires an Act of Parliament to guide negotiation and performance of mining agreements to promote transparency, honesty, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness.
Taking advantage of this loophole, it is alleged that in 2008, Anglo-American released mining claims in exchange for empowerment credits or a cash equivalent of US$142 million, which was sold by the government of Zimbabwe for US$100 million.
The money was used to oil Zanu PF’s presidential runoff campaign at the height of economic collapse. 2013 and 2018 elections In 2013, governance watchdog Global Witness warned that there is strong evidence showing that Zanu PF has secured large funds from the country’s lucrative diamond mines which it was now spending on undemocratic tactics such as tampering with the electoral roll.
The organisation also warned that whilst the run-up to the election was largely peaceful, funding of Zanu PF’s electoral campaign through the use of state resources raised serious concerns that the vote would be flawed.
In 2018, platinum miner Zimplats released land to the government in June, a month before the general elections. The platinum claims were quickly transferred to Karoo Resources in a murky deal.
Another watchdog, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) alleges that some of the undisclosed mining contracts contain financial commitment/donation clauses towards the ruling party.
Zanu PF has also been under scrutiny for using mining interests, rather than the party’s coffers fund their own campaign, placing them at an advantage over opposition.
The general election has been under scrutiny, over instances in which Zanu PF politicians have been using proceeds from mining interests to buy votes and wrest constituencies and wards long held by the opposition.
For instance, as also reported by The NewsHawks, controversial gold buyer Pedzisai “Scott” Sakupwanya, who is also Mnangagwa’s fundraiser, has been part of politically-linked elites that have been minting money through the Gold Incentives Scheme (GIS).
In 2021, his company Better Brands pocketed US$460 million in revenues at the expense of artisanal and small-scale miners. Sakupwanya, who has been implicated in Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia documentary over alleged money laundering, got 5% for every 20kgs of gold delivered by artisanal miners.
According to the new report by the human rights watchdogs, money from gold dealing is financing Sakupwanya’s quest to wrest the Mabvuku seat which has been elusive to Zanu PF.
“He managed to wrestle the Ward 21 Councillor seat in Mabvuku Harare in March 2022. That seat has been a preserve for the opposition since 2000. Scott it is alleged, had delivered, through his company Better Brands, slightly more than seven tonnes of gold to Fidelity Gold Refiners (FGR) in the prior year with an estimated value of US$460 million.
“Considering the gold incentive scheme introduced in 2021 by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to stifle illicit gold market and rake in more gold to the formal market, Scott could have been well resourced for his campaign,” reads the report.
Zanu PF’s election bid in Mabvuku has been funded through mining proceeds. Apart from Scott, Zanu PF provincial chairman for Harare, Godwills Masimirembwa, also had another botched, but well-resourced campaign in Mabvuku in the 2013 elections.
In 2013, he was chairperson of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), a state-owned entity that had a 50% stake in all but one diamond mining companies operating in Marange.