FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s meet-the-people rallies where she donated agricultural equipment to Zanu PF supporters were funded by the State, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday.
Chinamasa was responding to a question by Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross (MDC-T), who wanted to know who financed Grace’s rallies and the expenditure incurred.
The equipment Grace donated was from a Brazilian facility which the Ministry of Agriculture entered into to boost the agricultural sector.
“The short answer is that the cost of the logistics or movement of the First Lady to meetings falls within the budget of the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) because it is not feasible to isolate such costs from the overall costs of the budget of the OPC,” Chinamasa said
Pressed further by Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda (MDC-T) to explain if government funds could be used for political rallies, Chinamasa said the two issues could not be separated.
“The MP is just trying to split hairs because the First Lady sometimes travels with the President, and I do not know whether you want to separate the cost of the First Lady riding on the helicopter with the President,” Chinamasa said.
“Sometimes the President delegates her to do charity work. Grace sometimes helps the President in discharging his government duties of charity work and you cannot separate the political from the official work because the President is President of the country as well as Zanu PF and he cannot separate his leadership of the two.”