By Johannes Chin’ombe
Zaka, February 09, 2016 – The Zaka District Adminstrator’s (DA) office is reportedly demanding $5 each from civil servants in the district as contributions towards President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash later this month.
The Zimbabwean leader turns 92 in less than two weeks and a lavish party has been organised for drought hit Masvingo province.
His birthday celebrations, now an annual ritual, have seen ordinary citizens and businesses bearing the brunt of the current economic collapse being railroaded to contribute towards the event.
Likewise, the Zaka District Council last week convened a meeting to ensure the province was not left out in ensuring the celebrations were successful.
Present at the meeting was District Development Fund’s (DDF) head Tawanda Magadhi, Livestock Production and Development (LPD) head, Crispen Tukwa, Department of mechanization, Joseph Gumbire, Agritex head, Obert Pedzisayi and Gladys Marozva from the Ministry of Lands.
Confirming the development, government employees from different departments in Zaka district expressed disappointment over the forced donations.
“We do not even know how to present such requests to our subordinates. We are currently facing challenges as civil servants and now this, being made to donate towards someone’s birthday when I cannot celebrate my own life,” said one departmental head.
“We were told that we should pay five United States dollars per employee and after paying, a register would be signed,” said another employee from the District Development Fund (DDF).
“We are just paying out of fear of the unknown since anything associated with registers usually has follow up from the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation). So under such a scenario, you have no choice since the intelligence guys are unpredictable on what they will do to you if you are not found on the register.”
Added a senior officer from Agritex, “Currently we are failing to fend for our own families as we are getting almost nothing from government by way of salaries. The very same government owes us our bonuses but they are still brave to demand from our pockets.”
Zaka DA, Andrew Chivanga confirmed having fundraising activities ahead of the President’s birthday celebrations although he denied demanding the amount in question.
“We are in full swing as a district in fundraisings ahead of the President’s birthday. We are however not in any way forcing people or government employees to donate towards the event,” he said.
Chivanga, who declined to reveal who gave him the directive to source for donations from government employees said chiefs and village heads had been roped in to mobilise funds for the celebrations.
It has emerged the Zanu PF Masvingo province was racing against time to raise the $100 000 required ahead of the bash, which has been organised for the Great Zimbabwe Monuments.
Organisers of the event have targeted at least $800 000 for what they intend to make “the biggest” birthday bash the president has ever had.
Some feel it was an insult for President Mugabe, who failed to visit the province when thousands of families were affected by floods 2014, to now visit with the sole intention of flaunting his extravagance.
Similarly, the enthusiasm displayed by President Mugabe’s followers towards sourcing for funds for his birthday, has been condemned by opposition political parties and other civic organisations.
The opposition has further challenged President Mugabe to show compassion for suffering Zimbabweans by donating the amount towards sourcing for scarce food for nearly three million Zimbabweans worst affected by the current drought.