BY BLESSED MHLANGA/RUTENDO MATANHIKE
THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has been hit by a financial squeeze which has forced it to dig deeper into members’ pockets to fund travel, food and accommodation costs for its over 6 000 congress delegates set to meet in Gweru next Wednesday to elect new party leadership.
The party last month said it will spend close to $2 million on delegates, who will attend the crunch May 24 congress in Gweru. It is still not clear whether this would be an extraordinary congress following a High Court ruling by Justice Edith Mushore recently.
Giving an update on the congress preparations yesterday, party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said because of the failing economy, the costs of hosting the congress continued to skyrocket and the party would be relying on its members for funding.
“Our road in funding the congress is that of a struggle as we rely on our members and on our people. We do believe like every other organisation in this country that because of the way Zanu PF is governing this country and failed to deal with issues of inflation and costs, there will also be issues around funding,” he said.
Mafume, however, said despite the party struggling to get funding, congress was going ahead with delegates assured of accommodation, food and transportation.
“What is always clear about the MDC spirit is that the congress will be historic and that it will go according to a democratic process. No stone will be left unturned to make sure that it is a success. I can assure the delegates that food and accommodation has been secured and that we will be self-funding the whole process for the satisfaction of our party members and our constitutional obligation,” he said.
In the wake of a High Court ruling which nullified Chamisa’s presidency, Mafume said the forthcoming congress was not called by the party president and, therefore, would not be affected by the court ruling.
The party said it has invited outsiders to run its elections for all contested positions in an effort to promote transparency and fairness.
Meanwhile, former Education minister and MDC aspiring treasurer-general David Coltart said Zanu PF has taken advantage of the underfunded and divided opposition to subvert electoral processes and the will of the people.
In is manifesto as he seeks to win the hearts and minds of the congress delegates for the treasurer-general post, Coltart said he will ensure that the party is well-funded, run professionally and geared to out-poll Zanu PF.
“We need to acknowledge the bad. We have been divided in the past and that has been a gift to Zanu PF. We have also not run our party as we should,” Coltart said.
“The party has been underfunded in many ways and inefficiently run and we cannot claim to be people who can run Zimbabwe well if we cannot run our own party efficiently. So, this is not just about running our party efficiently, it’s about the message we convey to the electorate.”
The MDC went through several splits under the leadership of the late Morgan Tsvangirai, denying them a critical outright victory against former President Robert Mugabe in the crunch 2008 general election which had to be decided via a bloody presidential run-off.
In the 2018 general elections, the MDC, owing to lack of resources, failed to field polling agents in some constituencies and as a result, did not have all the V11 forms to effectively tally the results of the presidential elections.
Coltart, who faces Tapiwa Mashakada for the treasurer’s post, said his leadership – combined with that of uncontested Chamisa would deliver the ultimate blow to Zanu PF.
“The party has survived the onslaught of Zanu PF. In fact, it has more than survived, it’s stronger now, I believe, than ever before. Of course, the last week or so I have crisscrossed the country and I have seen the strength of the party at grassroots level. We also have a dynamic new leadership particularly under Chamisa, who has energised the party and who has invigorated young people in our nation in a way that I haven’t ever seen before,” he said.