THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has received a barrage of attacks from political, labour, human rights and governance commentators for funding advertisements in the public media congratulating First Lady Grace Mugabe for her appointment as Zanu PF secretary for women’s affairs.
Analysts said Zesa was a public institution and it was not right for them to spend public money for partisan interests.
Following the appointment of Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and former ambassador to South Africa, Phelekezela Mphoko, as first and second vice-presidents respectively, new 10 ministers and Grace as secretary for women’s affairs by President Robert Mugabe, Zesa has placed several advertisements in the public media, congratulating them for their appointments.
One advertisement congratulating Grace reads: “The board, management and staff of Zesa Holdings and its subsidiary companies, the Zimbabwe Power Company, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, Zesa Enterprises and Powertel Communication congratulate the First Lady Amai Dr Grace Mugabe on her recent and unanimous appointment as Zanu PF secretary for women’s affairs.”
Analysts said while there was nothing amiss congratulating the two vice-presidents and ministers as they were appointed to government positions, there was no need for the parastatal to spend money congratulating Grace.
Zanu PF member and youth empowerment activist Fidelis Fengu said he believed that Zesa was an institution meant to serve the wishes of the people and should not be spending money on politics.
“Zesa should not spend any money on the politics,” he said.
“They should stick to their core business. They have no business trying to please politicians. Yes, the First Lady was chosen by the people, but the same people expect Zesa to deliver on its mandate. Even the First Lady wants the people to be happy, so if Zesa spends money on politics even the First Lady won’t be happy.”
Human rights and governance expert Dewa Mavhinga said Zesa’s “sycophantic congratulations” to the vice-presidents and Grace showed just how partisan and politicised State institutions had become.
“In a properly functioning democracy, heads of State institutions like Zesa should not be bootlicking politicians to keep their posts, they should simply deliver professional services like reliable electricity to Zimbabweans,” he said. “Unfortunately, in Zimbabwe, State institutions compete to align themselves with Zanu PF in order to survive — all professionalism is gone.”
Western region chairman of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions Reason Ngwenya described the adverts as abuse of public funds.
“As a public institution, it is no doubt that the money they use to place those advertisements in the media is from us,” he said.
“This is an abuse and overuse of public funds on useless things.”
Women of Zimbabwe Arise leader Jennifer Williams said the abuse of the public funds from Zesa started at the time when ministers ordered the channelling of funds from the parastatal to fund the First Lady’s campaigns.
“It is grossly irresponsible for Zesa to channel funds to political activities,” she said. “It is not corporate responsibility as this is happening at a time when there is rampant load-shedding, some institutions like schools are not electrified yet Zesa priorities funding Zanu PF programmes.”
Zesa is already in the eye of a storm as some within Zanu PF have claimed that money was taken from the parastatal to fund fired Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s campaigns.
The parastatal’s comgratulatory messages may be seen as a face-saver from the parastatal, as former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and his deputy Munacho Mutezo were fired for allegedly siphoning money from Zesa to fund Mujuru’s so-called factional activities.
Efforts to get a comment from Zesa failed yesterday, as officials’ phones went unanswered.