For the past few weeks, Zimbabwean citizens have been protesting corruption and economic mismanagement by the ZANU-PF led government. Therefore, it is interesting to note that ZANU-PF is also corrupt and mismanages its own companies.
In the early 1980s, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) tried to build its own business empire under the M&S Syndicate (Pvt) Ltd, a holding company which included party properties, sixty low density houses and six farms. The party also established ZIDCO holdings, an import and export business which was professionally managed. Another business owned by ZANU-PF was Jongwe Printing and Publishing which published books and educational material for government schools and parliament. ZANU-PFs businesses were placed under the management of party stalwarts like Emerson Mnangagwa. In 1992, he claimed that ZANU-PFs businesses were worth Z$500 million at the time.
However, a 2005, Zanu PF Report of the Committee on Party Investments showed that most of the companies were severely mismanaged and on the brink of bankruptcy. The ruling party invested in Tregers Holdings, Mike Appel, Catercraft, Fibrolite, which is now closed, Zidlee, which failed to take over Delta in 1989 and ran duty-free shops, Southern African Re-Insurance Company (Sare), Zidco Holdings and First Bank, whose Congo investment has now collapsed. Zanu PF also had interests in National Blankets, Woolworths and Ottawa Building, which were disposed of in unclear circumstances. Some believe these assets were sold off to senior ZANU-PF officials at a discount. It is also reported that Zanu PF had a 23% equity in Bindura through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
During the 2013 campaign, it was reported the party was in such serious financial dire straits that President Mugabe had to loan them money for printing campaign materials. In 2014, it was reported by the Zimbabwe Independent that ZANU-PF’s businesses were making huge losses for reasons ranging from antiquated machinery to sanctions-related problems and serious mismanagement. Within the party, many acknowledge that internal corruption also led to the demise of the party’s businesses.
Currently, there are no published records of how much the party still owns. There are reports that some of the shares in companies were sold off to senior party officials. The party like the government also suffers from serious mismanagement and is in a serious financial crisis.