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RED CROSS SCANDAL

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By Staff Reporter

WITH the take over of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society complete, Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party has already started looting the organisation’s donated vehicles and assigned them to Mashonaland Central province where they are being used in politicalo campaigns for the up coming council elections, New Zimbabwe.com can reveal.

Two vehicles, a Nissan Hardbody registration number 774-502 Z and a Toyota truck, registration number 565-463 H, have been withdrawn from regular Red Cross activities and assigned to Zanu PF officials.

The cars have been placed in the custody of a provincial Zanu PF official identified as Nyangani, who is also a businessman in Bindura.

The vehicles were recently handed over by Edmore Shamhu, the Red Cross president, and now form part of the fleet of Zanu PF vehicles in Mashonaland Central.

Three Suzuki motorbikes, also donated to Red Cross, have also been deployed to Mashonaland Central, Shamhu’s home area, where he has been promised a parliamentary seat for delivering the Red Cross to Zanu PF.

The registration numbers for the motorbikes are 608-683, 608-683 and 533-590.

The vehicles were part of a donation from one of the organisation’s international donors to develop water and sanitation facilities in rural areas. The Red Cross is mainly funded by the European Union, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

New Zimbabwe.com revealed last week how Zanu PF had covertly muscled into the Red Cross, seizing control of one of the major international aid organisations seen as likely to play a central role in delivering food aid in coming months as the country graples with a severe food deficit.

The Red Cross is currently leading aid efforts at helping Aids orphans and people made destitute by a government blitz on unplanned dwellings which the United Nations says left 700 000 homeless.

Our investigations revealed that the ZRCS’s secretary general, Emma Kundishora, was elevated a few years ago after having been "recommended" by the government. through the Ministry of Health, to keep an eye on operations at the Red Cross.

Senior Zanu PF officials were reportedly behind the removal of former president, Dr Jimmy Gazi and his replacement by Mashonaland Central Zanu PF official, Edmore Shamhu.

The late Dr Swithun Mombeshora, who was a top Zanu PF official and government minister, was at one time president of the ZRCS. Zanu PF senator for Masvingo, Dzikamai Mavhaire, is a former board member.

Last month Sam Mavurutsa, a soldier, was recommended from the Air Force of Zimbabwe to head the organisation’s training centre in Westwood, Harare, which co-ordinates the training of volunteers and food distribution.

New Zimbabwe.com can also reveal that last year, a senior Red Cross official identified as Ndoro used the organisation’s vehicles to ferry land invaders to evict the few remaining white commercial farmers in Mashonaland Central province.

Shamhu's diversion of the organisation’s assets has sparked a looting frenzy among senior management workers at the Red Cross, a board member with the organisation told New Zimbabwe.com.

“After it became clear that the president was looting assets at the organisation, officials threw caution to the wind and grabbed vehicles of the organisation,” the board member revealed.

Kundishora, the secretary general of the Red Cross who is a former government employee, has helped herself to a Toyoya truck.

Another senior staffer, identified as KK Manyongo also seized a Toyota truck. The organisation’s treasurer, H Chikumbirike also has grabbed a Toyota Hilux. B Ncube, a finance officer with the Red Cross, has helped himself to two Yamaha bikes with Ndoro grabbing a Nissan Double Cab.

New Zimbabwe.com has also learnt that Shamhu and Kundishora also bought themselves expensive top of the range cellphones using Red Cross funds. In January, the two officials awarded themselves shopping vouchers worth $50 million each. The money was diverted from a budget which was supposed to reward volunteers for serving the organisation without remuneration last year.

Shamhu, a school teacher in Mashonaland Central, has flooded the organisation with unqualified fellow teachers and Zanu PF supporters from Mashonaland Central, among them Lucky Goteka, Calvine Matsinde, a Raradza and one S Chinhaire.

Kundishora has employed her niece, Nyasha Kuwamba, as a consultant who is being paid double for consultancy, and as an employee.

Other cronies of the secretary general include a Netsai Chizema, a former colleague with the Ministry of Health, who has been made the Red Cross' human resources manager.

Shamhu and the secretary general have been accused by workers of fleecing the Red Cross through unnecessary foreign trips and awarding themselves thousands of US dollars in per diems.

The take-over of the Red Cross comes as President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, has been strategically positioning his adherents in key state firms in preparation for threatened national protests by his opponents.

The Zimbabwe government has been desperate to control the activities of aid organisations. The NGO Bill which bans foreign NGOs as well as foreign funding of local NGOs was passed in 2004. The government claims NGOs are used as proxies by Western powers to destabilise the country.

President Robert Mugabe's opponents will be watching the developments at the Red Cross with concern given Zanu PF's history of denying aid to opposition supporters.

Several international aid organisations, and the respected Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, have accused Mugabe's government of preventing food aid from reaching Mugabe's opponents.

No official comment could be obtained from the Red Cross last night.
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