via Storm brews over Tsvangirai’s car – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 20, 2015
SHARP divisions have reportedly emerged within the opposition MDC-T’s top leadership on whether to buy an all-terrain vehicle from local car dealers or buy it from outside the country.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/EVERSON MUSHAVA
The party reportedly resolved to buy Tsvangirai a 4×4 vehicle at a cost of $80 000 following reports that his “battered Mercedes-Benz” allocated during his tenure as Prime Minister in the inclusive government had outlived its lifespan and broke down quite often.
Party sources said the top leadership was failing to agree over where to source the vehicle from amid reports that some MDC-T hawks were already angling themselves as car dealers in order to cash in on the transation.
Some senior party members were also fighting to take over control of MDC-T finances from treasurer-general Theresa Makone whom they accused of failing to account for some of the money donated by party members since she assumed the post last year.
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora confirmed the development yesterday, but declined to comment over the alleged divisions.
“It is true we have resolved to buy our president motor vehicles including an off-roader because of the work he has to do and is doing,” Mwonzora said.
“We have not made it a secret that Tsvangirai is our candidate for the 2018 elections, hence we have to equip him with the means to travel.”
Party spokesperson Obert Gutu also confirmed the plan, but refused to give more details.
“It’s not proper for me to disclose the type and make of motor vehicle that we are buying for our leader,” Gutu said.
“There are security issues involved and quite honestly, it is imprudent for me to answer your question. Anyway, how is your question relevant to the pressing issues that are facing the majority of the people of Zimbabwe today like the issues to do with lack of jobs, lack of adequate food and lack of adequate shelter?”
But party insiders told NewsDay the vehicle issue was just a tip of the iceberg as serious divisions have reportedly emerged over use of party funds.
“It is about control of finances. At one meeting, an angry Mwonzora demanded to know why there had been transactions by treasury without his knowledge. It emerged that there had been a bid to remove the secretary-general from the list of signatories of the party accounts on the pretext that he is a blacklisted person,” an MDC-T insider who declined to be named said.
“On or about June 12th, the MDC-T received $276 000 under the Political Parties Finance Act. Out of the figure, a meeting of the party national executive made a resolution to use $80 000 to buy a car for the party president,” the party insider said.
As the crisis deepen, some concerned party members have penned a letter to Tsvangirai alleging several irregularities over the handling of funds by Makone.
The letter, dated July 17 and addressed to Tsvangirai, claimed that Makone was withholding about $400 000 in the party coffers.
Makone, the letter alleged, was failing to repair an elevator at the party’s Harvest House headquarters as well as settling arrears in staff salaries.
The letter also raised concern over the use of Makone’s use of Econet’s mobile cash transfer service for contributions to the party.
The letter also claimed Makone was failing to account for such funds.
“This probably explains why she (Makone) deliberately skipped a finance meeting that was held at the end of June 2015 to avoid scrutiny, a matter that was raised during the national executive meeting held in June 2015,” part of the letter read.
“As if that was not enough, Makone undermined your (Tsvangirai) authority by enhancing security systems at her office by installing an electric door and a host of other security gadgets ahead of your own security.”
The letter added: “In view of the above, it is our conclusion that Makone’s untoward behaviour should be nipped in the bud before we consider passing a vote-of-no-confidence in her.”
Gutu defended her saying the party was happy with her management of party finances.
“The treasurer-general is performing her duties very well and I am not going to dignify malicious and scandalous rumours by giving a substantive comment to that bogus letter that was most probably authored by desperate CIO [Central Intelligence Orgnisation] operatives.”
Contacted for comment last night, Makone went ballistic saying: “Who the hell are you? I have a life; I am a mother and grandmother. I have a life to live. Why are you bothering me on a weekend like this? I am tired of being harassed over things that I do not know. If you have evidence against me, go and report to the police. I know you are being sent by someone, leave me alone.”