BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
The MDC Alliance has queried the government’s swift disbursement of funds under the Political Parties Finance Act to the Douglas Mwonzora led-MDC-T, saying this never used to happen before the 2019 split.
Mwonzora’s party was on Friday given $59 940 000 by the government while Zanu PF got a whopping $140 million, igniting fresh debate about the MDC-T and MDC Alliance battle over the control of funds meant for parties with a sizeable representation in Parliament.
MDC Alliance secretary for presidential affairs Jameson Timba said it was surprising that government continued to give the MDC-T money when there was a High Court ruling barring the release of the funds to either of the MDC factions before their dispute was resolved by the courts.
Timba said the release of the money showed Zanu PF’s desperation to oil “its surrogates” to distabilise the party led by Nelson Chamisa.
“There is a High Court judgment that says the money must not be distributed to anyone until the legal dispute is resolved,” Timba said.
“But alas, both the Zanu PF government and its surrogate do not respect the rule of law.”
Timba added: “Zanu PF needs to keep its surrogate funded in the same way Renamo was funded by the Rhodesians to fight and tire Zanla forces before they crossed over to fight the Rhodesians.”
He said in 2018 and 2019, the MDC Alliance was given its money without any problems, but trouble started in March last year when the government started giving the allocation to the MDC-T.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi yesterday defended the government’s position on the distribution of the money.
“They (MDC Alliance) lost the case, there is no such ruling barring government from releasing money to the MDC-T. If they have the ruling, can they show you?” Ziyambi said.
“Mwonzora is what we know. If they have any claim, they should go and make the claim to him because he is the one we gave.
“We know the leader of the opposition is Mwonzora.”
Ziyambi said the MDC Alliance should leave the government out of its fight against the MDC-T.
On allegations that government was propping Mwonzora, Ziyambi said: “That is a lie; just like saying government is not procuring vaccines.
“The disbursement was done in February and parties wrote asking for supplementary budgets, citing changed circumstances.
“(Patrick) Chinamasa (Zanu PF) wrote and Paurina Mupariwa (MDC-T) also wrote and I attached a support letter to the minister of Finance. He approved it and released the funds.
“The mere reason that the MDC Alliance did not write asking for the funds shows that they know that they are not entitled to it.”
Mwonzora’s spokesperson Lloyd Damba said the disbursement of the money by government was transparent.
“Allocation of funds under the Political Parties Finance Act is not something which is new,” Damba said.
“Political parties have always been benefiting from the Act, including Chamisa.
“Why would they make a fuss now when Douglas Mwonzora is now the beneficiary? After all, the fund is being allocated in a transparent manner, in line with the dictates of the constitution.
“Chamisa and his allies should know that these are the consequences of failing to respect the court orders and the constitution of the MDC-T, which they disregarded and pursued politics of individualism.”
Meanwhile, leaders of opposition parties that formed the MDC Alliance ahead of the 2018 elections yesterday denied claims that they were backing Mwonzora.
Mwonzora is claiming leadership of the alliance, an electoral pact entered into by the late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and six other opposition parties in December 2017, which is now being led by Chamisa.
On Thursday, Mwonzora held a meeting at Richard Morgan Tsvangirai House party offices as the leader of the alliance, but only two of the signatories of the MDC Alliance pact of 2017 attended the meeting.
Leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the Welshman Ncube-led MDC accused Mwonzora of manipulating individuals into misrepresenting that they had attended the meeting on behalf of the parties.
Last month, Mathias Guchutu, leader of the Multiracial Christian Democrats party who claimed to be the convener of the Alliance, on July 12, wrote to Mwonzora informing him that the MDC-T had been expelled from the grouping for failing to abide by the principles of the alliance.
Guchutu, however, later withdrew the suspension, citing the need to pursue dialogue with Mwonzora.
He claimed that senior MDC-T party members called him for engagement following the suspension.
Guchutu attended Mwonzora’s meeting on Friday.
The MDC-T issued a statement after the meeting, but party spokesperson Nqobizitha Khumalo did not disclose the names of the principals of the alliance who were in attendance.
In the statement, Khumalo said the principals had acknowledged Mwonzora as the leader of the alliance and ordered Chamisa to stop using the Alliance name.
He said several principals had endorsed Mwonzora, but The Standard is reliably informed that only the MDC, Zimbabwe People First and Zanu Ndonga had representatives at the meeting.
Stephen Manzana, spokesperson and representative of the Zimbabwe People First, who attended the meeting said the party was yet to decide whether to join Mwonzora’s alliance or not.
He said the party could join Mwonzora’s camp if he was willing to share the funds allocated to the Alliance under the Political Parties Finance Act with the other principals.
“We were invited to the meeting by MDC-T president Mwonzora, but we are still at the negotiating table with both Mwonzora and Chamisa,” Manzanza said.
“We are not members of any alliance as yet. We will join the grouping, which offers the best to advance the interests of the general Zimbabweans.”
PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the party was not represented in Mwonzora’s meeting and disowned Lucia Matibenga, who was named as the representative of the party.
Matibenga, leader of a splinter PDP group, was part of the Joice Mujuru-led electoral pact in the 2018 general elections, not the Alliance, which rival leader Tendai Biti was part of.
“Mwonzora is creating party leaders to advance selfish interests,” Mafume said.
“The so-called alliance is fictitious and bogus.
“The meeting was held out of desperation, dishonesty and craziness.
“He recalled members of Parliament from the MDC Alliance because they were not members of the MDC-T, now they are claiming its ownership.”
The MDC alliance principals, who were not part of the meeting, said they never received any invitation from Mwonzora to join him.
They, however, said they could not have attended the Thursday meeting even if they had been invited because they did not recognise Mwonzora as the leader of the Alliance.
Welshman Ncube-led MDC vice-president Edwin Mushoriwa said the party had no intentions to join any other alliance other than the one led by Chamisa.
“Mwonzora did not even bother to invite us because he knew that we would not attend. We do not subscribe to his cheap political tricks,” Mushoriwa said.
“We know that the meeting was part of Mwonzora’s multiple sideshows to derail the agenda for change. But as the MDC-N, we continue rallying behind Chamisa to push for democracy and constitutionalism and respect the people’s will.”
MDC-T spokesperson Witness Dube said all parties were represented at the meeting except for the Transform Zimbabwe led by Jacob Ngarivhume which had pulled out of the alliance.
He said principals of the alliance were bound by the agreement that set up the alliance.