ZANU PF leaders in Bulawayo are reportedly divided on the action to take against party youths accused of demanding money from white-owned companies soon after the party’s victory in the July 31 elections.
According to party insiders, four youth league members — among them members of the provincial youth executive — have been identified as the main culprits who went around extorting bribes in the form of “protection fees”.
Proof has also been provided linking them to the extortion scam.
Zanu PF Bulawayo province last week encouraged businesses that had fallen prey to extortionists using the party’s name to bring forward evidence.
The party held a meeting of central committee members on Sunday morning where names of the extortionists were presented and evidence of receipts produced where the youths signed for the money from the companies.
“A local company provided names of the party youths who were going around asking for money. They produced receipts where the youths actually signed acknowledging receipt of the money,” a party insider told Southern Eye yesterday.
“The company produced a receipt where the youths took $150 claiming that it was for oranges and came back for $500 claiming it was meant for President Robert Mugabe’s campaign material.”
The insiders said the party found itself in a catch 22 situation since some senior party members wanted the issue addressed.
“There was a feeling among some senior members that the youths from the previous provincial structure were also involved in the issue of taking money from companies. It was said if the four were to be punished, the rest should be censured.
“There was debate again on whether the youths should be taken to the police or taken through party disciplinary processes. There was pointing of fingers with some senior members accusing politburo member and youth secretary Absalom Sikhosana of handpicking members of the provincial youth executive, some with known criminal records.”
Zanu PF national youth league executive member for Bulawayo, Mpehlabayo Malinga, called on the provincial executive to urgently deal with the matter as the accused youths were tarnishing the party’s image.