In funding the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), the government could likely be sponsoring a programme, which duplicates the work of the cabinet and one that could be costly in the long run, analysts have said.
POLAD is a voluntary dialogue platform for political actors ‘to share ideas’ that include, the ruling Zanu PF party and other leaders of fringe parties that participated in the 2018 presidential elections.
The dialogue platform is currently funded by the government, as confirmed by Professor Lovemore Madhuku, who chairs the Governance and Legislative Agenda subcommittee.
Responding to questions from CITE, Prof Madhuku said funding of its activities, including hotel accommodation and transport, came from the Office of the President and the Cabinet (OPC).
“All the funds we use in POLAD are coming from the Office of the President and the Cabinet. When you see all these people here (sic)… we have a secretariat from the Ministry of Justice, they are the ones who do paperwork, then we have the persons from the office of the president and cabinet, so in our circles you will hear the word OPC,” he said.
Prof Madhuku, added that, “the OPC people are the ones responsible for our transport and accommodation. There are no allowances -nothing (but) they pay for our fuel and then they pay the hotels and so forth,” he said, noting that POLAD members had stayed in Bulawayo for two nights at a local hotel discussing the constitutional amendment (no.2) Bill.
“If we are staying at a hotel as we did here – two nights in Bulawayo, but that is funded by the government and that’s government money which is our money.”
However, the government’s funding of POLAD has been interrogated by some Zimbabweans who wondered on what basis the dialogue platform received funds as it was not an act of Parliament.
Critical studies scholar, Khanyile Mlotshwa said POLAD was actually “operating like a kitchen cabinet.”
He questioned what its role was when a cabinet was in place to make decisions.
“They (POLAD members) want to make decisions that elected people should be making. In POLAD, President Mnangagwa might be running a parallel government structure. In the long run, it will be costly,” Mlotshwa noted.
ZAPU Southern Region communications director, Patrick Ndlovu, said the challenge with funds from the OPC was that the money was used at the discretion of the President.
“This means the funds can be abused for his pleasure. This is just one example of abuse of state resources to keep Zanu PF in power. POLAD is an individual initiative and certainly not a parliamentary creation,” said
He claimed the way the OPC was organised, is such that the President can use funds anyhow with no accountability to anyone.
“Not even Parliament has a say once they hand over those funds. That way those funds are vulnerable to abuse like they are being abused to fund POLAD. There should be a distinction between ED (Mnangagwa) the state President and ED the Zanu President. Zanu programmes should be funded by Zanu PF the party,” he said.
In short, Ndlovu said POLAD must “certainly not” receive government funds, as it was “not a government project.”
Dr Nkululeko Sibanda, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson, wondered where the government sourced ‘extra’ funds to support political actors.
“It is clear that those in POLAD are bribed to attend, they are using taxpayers’ money when the country is facing a decline of social services. The government should not be funding POLAD and we wonder where the money comes from. It is expensive to stay in a hotel yet the government pays for people to discuss silly ideas that are not welcome to Zimbabwe,” he quipped.