Zanu PF hall of shame in limbo

HARARE - Factionalism and a lack of financial resources stand in the way of the completion of Zanu PF’s multi-million dollar Hall of Shame in Gweru ahead of the party’s conference due in two weeks.

President Robert Mugabe’s party has embarked on a massive offensive to mobilise funds in order to complete its multi-million dollar hall while factions opposed to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are also throwing spanners in the project, the Daily News can reveal.

As of last week when the Daily News visited Gweru, the Hall of Shame was far from complete although some workers at the site insisted that it would be completed by the time the conference takes place.

 However, other workers doubted if the conference hall would be completed on time.

The Daily News named it the Hall of Shame as it will gobble at least $6 million at a time when more than two million Zimbabweans are facing imminent starvation. It is also suspected that the construction of the Hall of Shame is being funded through illicit diamond deals.

This week, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa all but confirmed the crisis at the Hall of Shame while speaking to the state media.

 He said: “I personally had the privilege to look at it (convention centre) alone. I feel the people of Midlands deserve lots of praise,” he said.

“This could not have been done in this short time. Because it is here, we are determined to hold our conference here in honour of the good work that has been done so far.

“Whether it is ready or not (to host the conference) we have decided to hold our conference here because the work that has been done here already requires that we hold our conference here.

“There is only one word which anybody can use to describe the convention centre and that is the centre is very excellent. It has been very well done within a very short space of time.”

To complete the conference hall which is being built 15km from the City of Gweru, Zanu PF is now coercing members of the public to chip in amid indications that the $6 million budgeted for the construction has already been exhausted.

Information gleaned from top Zanu PF officials shows that Mnangagwa is pushing hard for the completion of the controversial hall but there are some Zanu PF factions who are reportedly working behind the scenes to ensure that it is not completed on time.

They hope to use this to settle personal scores with Mnangangwa in the fight to replace Mugabe.

The Hall of Shame, along the Gweru-Mvuma Road, includes offices for the presidium, a giant stage, a 5 000-seater convention hall, a state-of-the-art public address system and other devices and amenities to carry the party’s “very, very important visitors” into the five-day conference that opens on December 4.

But now with the conference just two weeks away, Zanu PF is racing against time amid revelations that the party coffers are dry.

While denying that Zanu PF was in a financial crisis, Rugare Gumbo, the party’s spokesperson expressed optimism that the project would be completed before the conference.

“I think we will be able to complete the project before the conference. We have been assured that construction will be completed before  December 4,” he said.

Gumbo added: “We have the money that is why we are building that hall.”

Notwithstanding Gumbo’s denial, events of the past week show that Zanu PF is panicking as the date of the conference draws nearer.

Battling to find its footing, Zanu PF this week reconstituted its fundraising committee.

Gumbo told journalists in Harare on Wednesday that Mutasa, was now the new chairperson of the committee which is on a begging mission ahead of the conference.

Goodson Nguni, the coordinator of the fundraising committee, said the party is raising money for accommodation and hotels.

“We are raising money for accommodation and transportation as is always the tradition and nothing more,” said Nguni.

With stakes high to succeed Mugabe, factions opposed to Mnangagwa are not supporting the project materially as is often the case with previous conferences.

Insiders say workers at the monstrous conference hall have not been paid for more than four weeks and were recently forced back to work by Mutasa when he toured the project two weeks ago.

Companies owned by Zanu PF are reeling from financial problems and most of them are operating below capacity leading to civil society organisations and the MDC formations to conclude that diamond money is keeping Zanu PF afloat.

Just like during the 1980s, people are being asked to chip in with any amounts but times have changed and the former ruling party is no longer as popular among the masses who find it difficult to have a single meal a day.

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