600 chickens, 3.5 tonnes of maize and $1m for Zanu-PF congress

Harare – Supporters of Zimbabwe’s ruling party have raised more than $1 million to host this week’s massive congress, and cows, goats and chickens are still coming in as donations.

Each of the country’s 10 provinces was told to provide $150 000 for the Zanu-PF congress, which will likely see President Robert Mugabe make significant changes to the top ranks of his party, the Herald newspaper reported today.

More than 12 000 delegates are expected to attend the event, to be officially opened by the 90-year-old president tomorrow. The Herald reported that the 10 provinces “had managed to raise slightly over 1 million US”.

Cows, goats, cattle, chickens, maize, rice and fish have also been collected to feed the delegates – as have 23 impala from central Masvingo province. Supporters from the capital Harare have managed to source 5 000 loaves of bread, according to the report.

Dickson Mafios, Zanu-PF chairperson of Mashonaland Central province, said that nine cattle, 600 chickens and 3.5 tonnes of maize had been mobilised so far. Often companies are pressured to make donations.

The donations cited are not thought to include money raised from a fundraising dinner for the congress held in Harare at the end of October, at which beleaguered vice-president Joice Mujuru was guest of honour.

First Lady Grace Mugabe has taken increasing prominence ahead of this meeting, touring the venue of the event on her own yesterday.

After being controversially awarded a PhD by the country’s main university in September, she has led a vitriolic campaign against Mujuru, ordering her to resign and even saying the 59-year-old “stinks”.

Mugabe yesterday gave his clearest indication yet that he would demote the widow of former army commander Solomon Mujuru, accusing her of being “simplistic”.

Zanu-PF’s powerful youth league has vowed to block her and her allies from attending the congress.

Deputy secretary for youth affairs Kudzai Chipanga told the private Newsday today: “We want to thank them for participating in congress preparations but they are not welcome. Just like cows, they help in the fields but when it comes to enjoying the yields they are not welcome.”

Analysts say Mugabe feared Mujuru had become too popular within the party and could unseat him.

But comparisons are being made with a similar – if slightly less dramatic – party purge the president made in 2004, this time of those opposed to Mujuru’s appointment as vice president.

Ten years ago, allies of the now Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa were purged. Mnangagwa was demoted to the lowly portfolio of minister of rural housing but he has bounced back to lead a faction which now has the upper hand in Zanu-PF.

Many delegates are travelling to Harare for the congress, according to the Herald. Mugabe is due to hold a meeting of his central committee today.

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