US envoy rubbishes spy claims

HARARE - Bruce Wharton, the United States of America Ambassador to Zimbabwe,  has denied damaging allegations that 12 Zanu PF MPs were spying for the  Americans.

The beleaguered party members, all of them legislators, are accused of soliciting for donations from Washington, with US local embassy staffer Eric Little, allegedly at the heart of the spying saga.

But Wharton said on social media that none of the 12 Zanu PF legislators had benefited under the US Ambassador Special Self-Help Programme.

Of the 12 accused legislators, four of the MPs — including Tapiwa Matangaidze, Kindness Paradza, Enock Porusingazi and the Movement for Democratic Change’s Willias Madzimure — said this week they were under no illusion this was all a consequence of the ugly infighting in President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party.

Some of the Zanu PF MPs also alleged that the stories that have enjoyed more prominence in State media were being sponsored by Information minister Jonathan Moyo.

Wharton  said in the past 10 years, the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Programme has disbursed more than $1 million in small grants (generally of $5 000 to $10 000) to community groups for projects that the communities themselves conceive, apply for, and manage.

“No Zimbabwean MPs or any other politicians at any level of government have ever received any funding from this programme,” Wharton said.

“This year, these funds will assist Bulawayo-based Loving Hand instal a water tank for people in the resettled village of Masi.

“They will assist households affected by HIV/Aids construct low-cost poultry cages and raise awareness of HIV/Aids in Guruve.

“They will enable an organisation in Chipinge South procure a grinding mill and fruit and vegetable dryers as well as conduct HIV/Aids training for youth.”

He said the grants were awarded competitively according to grant criteria, and development priorities were non-political.

“Areas of emphasis include income generation, education and vocational training, access to water and improved natural resource management as well as health, nutrition and social services to assist vulnerable populations,” Wharton said.

“While we do seek to make these grants available equitably in all parts of Zimbabwe, we do everything we can to keep the process and the grants non-political.”

Wharton said MPs had no say in or benefit from the programme but, as a matter of courtesy, are informed of the programmes in their constituencies and are invited to the signing ceremony.

In what analysts have described as a typical Zanu PF culture of deceit, skulduggery and misinformation, some party bigwigs are being maligned mercilessly in this latest war, with the State media calling the alleged American snitches the “dirty dozen” — clearly with a view of smoking out their political masters.

Wharton said  the  US diplomats frequently  met up  with legislators to  create  a  good  understanding  and  working  relationship.

“Zimbabwean diplomats in Washington seek to meet with and understand the perspectives of members of the US, congress, my staff and I seek to meet with and understand the perspectives of members of the Parliament of Zimbabwe as well as the government, political parties, civil society and the private sector,” Wharton said.

“This is what diplomat’s do we meet with people, share our views, get theirs and do our best to build understanding on both sides of the relationship.”

Comments (4)

This is stale news. Wharton's statement was reported days ago. Where were you Mr Editor.

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