OPPOSITION MDC MP for St Mary’s, Job Sikhala, says he was pulling a red herring on gullible journalists when he claimed his party had received funding from Nigeria and Ghana.
Sikhala, who was reacting to media reports that police in Harare had launched investigations to establish the truth of claims that the MDC received funds from abroad in contravention of the Political Parties (Finance) Act, said police had better concentrate on other pertinent and more serious matters of crime.
“That was a political statement to achieve an objective. That objective has been achieved because warring factions in the MDC are working to resolve their differences as a result of that statement,” Sikhala said.
The outspoken Sikhala is a founding member of the MDC, having cut his political teeth in student activism at the University of Zimbabwe.
“There are numerous cases which have remained unsolved that include cases arising from the 2000 general election and the 2002 presidential election in which the police can put more effort into solving than waste time and resources investigating this issue,” Sikhala said.
Sikhala told the Herald on Monday that the intra-party wrangles in the MDC over participation in the senatorial election stemmed from control of US$500 000 from Ghana and Nigeria and an earlier US$2 million from Taiwan. All three countries have since issued statements denying ever giving money to the opposition in Zimbabwe.
The state media lurched on Sikhala’s statement on Monday, giving it prominence as proof that the opposition was foreign-funded in flagrant violation of the law.
But Sikhala scoffed at suggestions by police that he would assist them in their investigations.
“Zanu PF has received funding from Libya and there has not been any investigation of any sort. It received funds from the ANC of South Africa that were subject to debate in parliament but was never investigated. Why should the MDC be probed?” Sikhala asked.
He said the police would be going on a wild goose chase if they pursued the matter because no such thing ever happened.
“It was a test of the gullibility of journalists in the state media,” Sikhala said. “Why would I, of all the people, run to the Herald with a ‘scoop’ when the paper has been demonising the MDC at every turn?”
He said it would be ridiculous for anyone to believe that his party would commit a crime and then run to report it to the state media, given the vilification the MDC had been subjected to since its formation six years ago.
As a political statement, Sikhala claimed, his remarks had given urgency to the factions in his party to work towards a solution.
There were signs the two factions in the party were climbing down from their entrenched positions by yesterday to begin work to patch up relations.