FORMER Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T is deeply in the red and early this month extended a begging bowl to a group of diplomats, commonly known as the “Fishmongers”, seeking money to oil its administration, NewsDay has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Sources within the opposition party said the MDC-T is in a precarious financial position.
“The situation is really bad at Harvest House (MDC-T headquarters). There is no money and for some time now, workers have not been paid. This is despite the fact that in the past year or so since the 2014 October congress, the party has raised over $1,2 million,” a well-placed party insider said.
“However, that money cannot be accounted for and now the party wants donors to chip in with assistance.”
Diplomatic sources in Harare last week said a team from the MDC-T led by secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora and party treasurer-general Theresa Makone met with envoys from Britain, the United States, Australia Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Holland, Norway and Canada to seek financial assistance.
The envoys’ group is derisively known as the “Fishmongers” after a restaurant in Harare, where they regularly meet.
The meeting, impeccable sources revealed, came after Makone had met former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, as efforts within opposition ranks to form a “grand coalition” gather steam.
Mujuru is now fronting the People First outfit that is yet to be launched and made up of former Zanu PF stalwarts kicked out of the ruling party at the end of 2014.
“Western countries that have supported the (MDC-T) party technically and otherwise have demanded a coalition of opposition parties, but most of these are holding back because of egos. The MDC-T has been forced into meeting with People First because there has been a pre-condition for any kind of support, which is to form a coalition of opposition parties,” an envoy said last week.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu could neither deny nor confirm the meeting took place.
“As the largest and most popular political party in the country, the MDC is always engaging in meetings and discussions with all concerned and relevant stakeholders as we seek to lawfully and democratically establish a new Zimbabwe,” he said, adding “it would not be proper for us to disclose the identities of each and every stakeholder with whom we consult.
“Suffice to say that the MDC has held discussions and, indeed, continues to interact with several diplomats, the Fishmongers included. Let me hasten to say that diplomatic consultations and engagements are part of modern-day political discourse.”
Gutu, however, rejected claims the party was looking for financial assistance, but admitted the MDC-T, like all facets of life in Zimbabwe, had been affected by the economic meltdown.
“The MDC is a law-abiding party. We do not rely on foreign funding. Our political party is bankrolled by membership subscriptions as well as our share from Treasury, in accordance with the Political Parties Finance Act,” he said.
“Let me make it abundantly clear that no money has been unaccounted for in the party. Each and every party expenditure is transparent and above aboard, and, indeed, all stakeholders are always free to verify the transparency and authenticity of our accounting system. We have got absolutely nothing to hide; no skeletons in our cupboards.”