THE MDC-T party led by Douglas Mwonzora says it has opened doors for other political parties that are willing to join it to form a coalition ahead of the 2023 elections.
The party is claiming ownership of the name, MDC Alliance, a coalition of several opposition parties, which is currently being led by Nelson Chamisa.
Mwonzora’s spokesperson Lloyd Damba (LD) told NewsDay (ND) senior reporter Miriam Mangwaya that the party will consider joining the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) if it receives a formal invitation from President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Below are excerpts of the interview.
ND: Your official party name is MDC-T, but you are also claiming ownership of the MDC Alliance name. Why?
LD: Our name is MDC in terms of article 1(1) of the party constitution. We only added a T in 2008 after the split with the Welshman Ncube faction, so as not to confuse voters.
The name MDC Alliance was adopted by the national council on July 27, 2018, after it had ratified the composite political co-operation agreement to be known as the MDC Alliance. The then MDC-T national chairperson Lovemore Moyo chaired the council.
The alliance is a group of seven political parties which agreed to work together, and they include the People’s Democratic Party, MDC, MDC-T, ZimPF, Transform Zimbabwe, Zanu Ndonga and Multi-Chiristian Democrats. Now, article 5(2)(1) of the alliance agreement clearly states who the alliance is after the elections and it is us the MDC-T. So to answer your question, we are MDC and the names MDC-T and MDC Alliance are our electoral vehicles for different times. You can call us by any name and we will respond because they are all our names.
ND: MDC and MDC-T competed as different parties in the previous polls, how do you claim the MDC Alliance name, or it’s just a name for the sake of it?
LD: The MDC Alliance is a group of seven political parties; something that has been refuted many and several times by those who chose to ignore our party constitution when it came to the succession of our late leader Morgan Tsvangirai and those who chose to ignore the Supreme Court ruling and those who chose to vilify the courts and chose above all propaganda and hate speech.
But to respond to your question, yes, we would like to see a coalition of willing opposition voices coming together, including independent candidates who stood in the last election and last by-elections joining us.
ND: Critics say you are a Zanu PF project aimed at disrupting the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance from romping to victory in the 2023 lections. What do you say?
LD: One thing you have to understand is that Chamisa’s party is not MDC Alliance by operation of law. Being a former manager of a company and one opens their own similar corporate does not give them the legal right to use the trade name of their former company.
Secondly, we all know that the Zanu PF tag is peddled by our cousins, but we are impervious to such attacks because our founding father (Tsvangirai) was called a puppet of the West by Zanu PF and his haters. So we are not new to this name-calling because it is done by people who have no plan and it won’t increase their support base. Thirdly our difference with Zanu PF is ideological from day one when we formed this party in 1999 until now.
ND: There are accusations that MDC-T has been plunged into bankruptcy due to gross mismanagement of funds by top leadership, including Mwonzora, who is accused of siphoning over $6 million from the party coffers last year?
LD: It remains a false accusation because the party does not have a single signatory to its account.
Nowhere in the history of corporate and standard operating procedures and accounting do you have a single individual being a signatory to a corporate account and that accusation is malicious and peddled by people who are divorced from the financial operations of the party.
Secondly, we have not filed for bankruptcy and do not intend to do so in the near future because such malicious stories are peddled by people who do not know the meaning of the word bankruptcy.
ND: MDC Alliance principals had decided to expel MDC-T over various accusations, which include withholding funds allocated to the alliance under the Political Parties (Finance) Act. The decision was suspended, pending dialogue. If you then settle for dialogue, is it not an acknowledgment that the alliance still exists, contrary to your earlier position that you are the only remaining legitimate party forming MDC Alliance?
LD: There are no two MDC Alliances, but only one led by Senator Mwonzora because my claim is supported by a written and signed document that these principals signed and is still operational at law until 2023.
The so-called principals or principal who wrote the expulsion has no mandate to do so since he is no longer a member of the coalition principal’s forum in terms of the very same agreement he signed and there is no provision in the same agreement that gives power to any partner or partners to expel another member from the alliance.
Members are disqualified from the principal’s forum by not having seats in Parliament. So that disqualifies any partner who does not have a seat in Parliament to claim that they are the alliance. That leaves only Mwonzora who so far and legally is entitled to be the only principal in the coalition principal’s forum, making that so-called expulsion a nullity and non-event.
On the issue of the government grant, article 9 of the alliance agreement, states that the laws of Zimbabwe shall govern the agreement.
The Constitution states that parties that have more than 15 seats are entitled to the Political Parties (Finance) Act grant.
The other partners were allocated seats to contest in their perceived strongholds, as an example, the MDC led by Welshman Ncube was allocated 35 seats which they demanded and they only won five.
The same applies with PDP and Mathias Guchutu, the author of the letter which expelled us, he had only one slot and he lost. We had 114 slots and we won more than 40 and also additional or proportional seats, which entitles us to the grant and disqualified all the alliance partners from the grant.
ND: What is your position on Mnangagwa’s call for you to be part of Polad? If you can join Polad, don’t you think that every other political party that was formed even after the 2018 elections can also join the band wagon?
ND: Let me say that Polad is a home-grown political body that seeks ways to settle political disputes internally without the involvement of foreign powers and players, no matter who founded it. Though it had been demonised by various political players it does not mean it is a demon.
Yes, we have seen the televised invitation to Polad by Mnangangwa, but we have not received any formal invitation. But if the invitation comes, we will consult
our provinces and the national council of the party will make the final decision which will be implemented.
Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya