FRESH disagreements have rocked the opposition MDC-T over a proposal to pay a gratuity to the family of the party’s founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, NewsDay can reveal.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Highly-placed sources in the party said the MDC-T last week received $1,8 million from the government as part of its share under the Political Parties Finance Act, putting paid to a feeble attempt by expelled former deputy president, Thokozani Khupe, to claim a share of the spoils.
“The party received the money last week and there was an immediate proposal from some senior leaders including the secretary-general (Douglas Mwonzora) to pay a gratuity of $500 000 to former president Tsvangirai’s family, as a show of gratitude for the work he did during his time as leader of the party.
“The argument was that it is the only way the party could thank the family and the late icon of our democratic struggle.
“But this was shot down by people very close to the president (Nelson Chamisa). Instead, their counter proposal was a measly $10 000. It was shocking,” a source said.
Contacted for comment, Chamisa’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said: “I can confirm that, indeed, the party received its share from the government under the Political Parties Finance Act. The rest is nonsense. It’s hogwash.”
But, the sources insisted party deputy treasurer-general, Charlton Hwende, proposed an upward review to $50 000.
“Hwende proposed that Tsvangirai’s family gets $50 000, but some still felt this was an insult, given the former president’s contribution to the party in the past 18 years.
“He deserves better from the party that he toiled so much for.”
Another source, who attended the stormy meetings at which the issue was debated, said: “The situation was further worsened by the fact that the office of the president allocated itself $350 000.
“It is only fair that if the current president is getting that much, then we should surely honour the former president.”
Hwende confirmed a meeting of the MDC-T’s finance committee was held, but declined to divulge the details.
“A meeting of the finance committee was held where a lot of issues were discussed. When our internal consultations are concluded, we will issue a comprehensive statement,” the deputy treasurer-general said.
NewsDay also heard that those agitating for the gratuity payout wanted Tsvangirai’s dependents divided into three categories so that theycould also benefit.
“Tsvangirai’s mother will have to be looked after, his wife Elizabeth (Macheka) and the children. There are those who are in college, the party has to make sure they finish school, then there is the issue of the minor child.”
Acting party spokesperson, Tabitha Khumalo scoffed at the idea that Tsvangirai’s family was entitled to receive a gratuity from the MDC-T.
“There is no constitutional provision that says we should give them and there was no national council resolution to that effect,” she said.
Mwonzora yesterday confirmed receipt of the money, but denied there were any disagreements over disbursement.
“We received the money but I have no idea where you are getting (information) that there are disagreements. As far as I am concerned, the money will be used for party programmes,” he said.
The opposition party reportedly promised to take care of Tsvangirai family’s welfare following his death, but this was complicated by the leadership fights in which the former Prime Minister’s mother and some children reportedly took sides with Khupe and refused to recognise Chamisa’s elevation as party leader.
The issue, according to insiders, remained unresolved.