BY SILAS NKALA/PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
THE MDC-T owes US$100 000 to its lawyers who include constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku, Kholwani Ngwenya, Nomatter Kadoko, and another lawyer only named as Mtungura, it has emerged.
This was disclosed by the beleaguered party secretary-general (SG) Douglas Mwonzora yesterday during a Press briefing in Bulawayo where he tried to come clean over accusations that he raided a party account and diverted $300 000 for private use.
The party funds had been allegedly transferred to one of the party lawyers, Sarudzayi Chitsanga’s account following a family bereavement. MDC-T received $161 million from government under the Political Parties Finance Act.
A party member, Leonard Chisvo has already reported the fraud case to the police at Highlands Police Station under case number RRB4586626.
During the Press conference, Mwonzora claimed that he never had access to party funds and never distributed the $300 000 to anyone.
“I have read about that and I am told that somebody has already made a police report to that effect. It is not true. I never withdrew any money from the MDC-T account and I challenge my accusers to give the public proof of the withdrawal by myself,” Mwonzora said.
“Chitsanga has been one of our lawyers since March 31, we had five lawyers who were helping the MDC-T, and we have a lawyer here in Bulawayo — Ngwenya, Mtungura in Mutare, Madhuku, Chitsanga, and Kadoko all in Harare. These are the lawyers who have been handling MDC-T cases including all the 20 court challenges that were brought by the MDC-T.
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“We owe these lawyers some money, and legal fees running to over US$100 000 and we have to pay them, so yes we do owe Chitsanga more money than what people are talking about.”
He said where a lawyer has bereavement, it would be reasonable for the party to assist him, adding that Chitsanga was actually owed over US$12 000 by the party. He did not explain why the payment made to Chitsaanga did not follow normal procedure or was made without other party leaders being made aware.
“I never had access to that money at all and I challenge my accusers to show that I had access to it. The MDC-T has an accounting system which is very elaborate and this is an accounting system that I have been presiding over for years since 2014 as the SG and its accounting system is provided for in the constitution and finance and administrative rules.”
He claimed that the reports that he looted party funds were clear mudslinging ahead of the party congress slated for December 19 at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).
“So this is false, this is malicious, this is calculated to affect my chances at congress and I was told that some people wanted me arrested because they do not want an opponent like me to contest them. But I challenge them to prove their allegations and make that proof public, “he said.
The MDC-T senator said during his campaign trail, he was using funds donated by friends.
“But if the money was paid to a lawyer who is owed money by the organisation and who has a problem and the money is there, how does it become looting by Mwonzora?”
He then bragged that he had the highest chances of winning the MDC-T presidency to succeed the late party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora said that all expelled and recalled party members would not be eligible to attend the MDC-T congress.
“Our officers are currently engaging with the Ministry of Health and Child Care. Those people who have been expelled from the party or those that have been recalled will not be eligible for the congress,” he said.
Mwonzora also dismissed reports that the congress will be virtual, saying that it would be a physical one where delegates from across the country would attend.
“We have made security arrangements to deal with the possible disturbances of our congress by certain elements that we suspect are likely to disrupt our congress. The independent electoral commission is going to be given the voters role on Wednesday,” he said, adding that 20 COVID-19 compliance officers had been trained.
Mwonzora will contest against the acting MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe, chairperson Morgan Komichi and deputy national chairperson Elias Mudzuri for the presidency.