By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
09 May, 2014
As the recent split in the MDC-T turns into a battle for control of parliamentary representation and party assets, both the Tsvangirai and the Biti factions have accused each other of abusing party funds, with reports and rumours of millions of dollars that may have helped to fuel the leadership renewal row.
Newsday reporter Conway Tutani said information has not been difficult to come by but is mostly off the record. In an opinion piece in his newspaper, Tutani referred to “a whopping $5 million” which is reported to have been “factored” into the MDC-T split, in addition to the already existing row over leadership.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa’s Reporters Forum programme, Tutani said there have been suggestions on their website that he understated the amount being disputed by the MDC-T camps, and that it could actually be as high as $20 million.
Tutani said: “One side, the Tsvangirai side, has made accusations. The other side hasn’t actually replied. So I suppose silence means there could be some grain of truth in it. The other side has just been silent.”
Tutani was referring to the camp led by Tendai Biti, who was secretary general in the Tsvangirai MDC-T, but whose faction he said to hold the purse strings and is alleged to have denied funds to officials in the Tsvangirai camp.
But Jacob Mafume, spokesperson for the Biti faction, denied withholding any funds from Tsvangirai’s MPs, and instead accused Tsvangirai himself of taking funds from party coffers. But Mafume told SW Radio Africa that the MDC-T split was “purely about leadership renewal”.
He said: “Even government struggles to bring back $30 million in diamond money. Where do they get those figures? Those are figments of people’s hyperactive imagination, or otherwise what you would call lazy journalism. Where is it stored? In whose bank account and under whose name?”
“My father worked for many years as a teacher and retired on $10,000 or so. Now Morgan Tsvangirai worked for only 5 years as Prime Minister and got $1.5 million tax free from the state. Talk about abuse of funds,” Mafume explained, also alleging that Tsvangirai gave $300,000 of the party’s money to ex-girlfriend Locardia Karimatsenga.
It is no secret that both the ruling ZANU PF party and the MDC-T are experiencing financial difficulties, as international donors continue to withdraw funding from many Zimbabwean causes and the local economy continues to deteriorate under destructive ZANU PF policies.
According to The Independent newspaper, ZANU PF workers around the country have not received their wages for the month of April. The paper quotes “senior party sources” who claimed “the financial situation is so bad that it may also fail to pay May salaries”.
With the ZANU PF wage bill in arrears, reported to be at $130,000, the party secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa has refused to comment, saying he “no longer speaks to the Press”.
As for the MDCT, The Independent said the workers last received their wages four months ago and the situation is bound to get worse due to the recent split and suspensions.
Unlike ZANU PF, which resorts to forcing businesses and ordinary citizens to contribute to party coffers, the MDC-T is reported to have appealed to their own officials. Tutani said MPs were asked to donate $100 to help save the party, with National Executive members contributing $50 and Councillors $10 each.