The Institute for Democratic Alternative of Zimbabwe that is reportedly funding Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s press and research department has opened investigations into the alleged abuse of donor funds by the Premier’s office.

The Herald is reliably informed that Idazim is funding the PM’s press and research office but senior officials have been siphoning funds for personal use.

An administrator is said to have fled to the United Kingdom after Idazim launched the investigations.

Sources say Idazim pays rentals for number 14 Bath Road in Avondale, which houses offices for the PM’s press and research team. The press team is responsible for the production of the Prime Minister’s Newsletter.

The non-governmental organisation also pays salaries for employees in the press and research department.

The employees in the PM’s press department earn between US$1 200 and US$1 700 net salaries depending on grades.

According to sources, the office cost US$750 in rentals a month but senior officials from the PM’s press team have been claiming US$1 500 for the past two years.

“The officials were also in a tendency of hiring and firing employees. They would go for months pocketing the dismissed employees’ salaries without notifying Idazim, which is responsible for the salaries. As a result the NGO lost thousands of dollars in salaries for the ghost workers,” a source that declined to be named said.

“As we speak the administrator (name supplied) in the PM’s office responsible for all activities at 14 Bath Road offices — from rentals to the disbursement of salaries — has since fled to the UK following investigations by Idazim.”

The funding of the PM’s press and research team has confirmed the existence of parallel structures in the inclusive Government and interference by Western funded donors.

Yesterday Idazim tried to distance itself from the PM’s Office when contacted for comment.

“There is some data which is missing in your story,” said its director Mr Joy Mabenge, in a telephone interview with The Herald from South Africa.

He professed ignorance about Idazim’s investigations into abuse of funds by the PM’s Office.

“There are no investigations taking place but an institution has many people, some of the things that happen are beyond my knowledge,” Mr Mabenge said.

Mr Mabenge promised to call The Herald after verifying facts later. He claimed the administrator was in the UK on holiday.

Idazim works closely with the United States Agency for International Development in Zimbabwe, Royal Netherlands embassy in Zimbabwe, German International Services Zimbabwe Office, Research Triangle International and the United Nations Development Programme Zimbabwe.

Registered in South Africa in February 2008, Idazim claims to be a think-tank and high-level facilitation platform whose mission is to deepen the search “for a democratic alternative to social exclusion and political repression”.

The NGO works with what it terms “a network of pro-democracy institutions and actors”.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Mr Jameson Timba could not comment on the matter as he was attending meetings yesterday. He promised to phone, but his phone later went unanswered.