MDC-T MPs Defy Tsvangirai

PARLIAMENTARIANS from the MDC-T have rebelled against party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s decree that they should not accept vehicles distributed by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.

Sources in the central bank and the MDC-T told the Zimbabwe Independent that at least 25 MPs from the party have since received the vehicles.

Among the MPs who received the vehicles are Marvellous Khumalo (St Mary’s), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Prince Matibe (Chegutu West), Jeffryson Chitando (Masvingo Central) and Brian Tshuma (Hwange Central).

The defiance by the lawmakers, sources said, had triggered generalised infighting between the MPs, the leadership and MDC-T civic supporters who accuse the party of joining the Zanu PF gravy train.

Yesterday, the MDC-T in a statement said it did not have any report that its MPs had collected vehicles from the central bank.

“If there is any that have done that (collected vehicles), then they have acted against the party position. Their case will be brought before the national executive and the national council and these party organs will take a final decision on the matter,” the statement said.

Tsvangirai last Thursday held an emergency meeting with MPs from his party and ordered them not to accept the central bank vehicles. He warned them of disciplinary action.

The day before, his deputy Thokozani Khupe had held an explosive meeting with the legislators who rejected her order not to accept the vehicles.

“Khupe last Wednesday told us that the party had reached a position on the issue of cars and that none of their members were going to accept the offer,” one of the legislators said. “Some MPs openly complained and said the decision was not fair and made it clear that they were prepared to break away from the party.”

This, the sources said, prompted Tsvangirai to call for an emergency meeting where he read them the riot act.

“We were shocked when Tsvangirai said the party was going to stand by its position on the issue of cars and threatened to expel anyone who accepted the offer. Some MPs once again threatened to split from the party,” another source said.

“The prime minister said he was going to call a national executive meeting and inform it that some MPs wanted to break away from the party because of the issue of cars as the party was going to stand by its position.”

During the same meeting, the sources said, Tsvangirai also barred the lawmakers from attending a National Constitutional Assembly luncheon the same day in retaliation for the NCA’s decision to snub a stakeholders’ conference addressed by the prime minister last month.

Tshuma and three other lawmakers from the MDC attended the luncheon.

Last Thursday Gono held a meeting with MPs who further asked him to offer them second-hand vehicles.
The central bank then decided to release the vehicles in batches.

The first batch had 50 vehicles — 18 Isuzu KB300s, five Isuzu KB250s, 10 Mazda 2500s, five Mazda BT50s, two Mitsubishi Colts, two Mitsubishi L200s,  two Toyota Vigos, one Nissan HB and five Nissan Wolfs.

According to the MDC-T, the issue of MPs’ vehicles should be handled by parliament’s Vehicle Loan Scheme.

“We have not heard that parliament is no longer handling this scheme to the extent that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe could once again become a central player in dishing out largesse when the government is now agreed that the central bank should not engage in quasi-fiscal activities,” the party said.

“It is disturbing to note that the RBZ continues to abuse itself by continuing to engage itself in quasi-fiscal operations when such operations should migrate to the government through the Ministry of Finance. Engaging in distribution of capital products is in itself a quasi-fiscal activity.”

BY LUCIA MAKAMURE