THE Norwegian Embassy has withdrawn 85 of the 200 vehicles donated to the disbanded Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) amid claims that the cars would be given to the South African-based Zimbabwe Institute (ZI), which MDC-T sources claim has been tasked to help find party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s successor.
This comes as MDC-T insiders said plans were underway to send a team of elders led by a senior clergyman to convince Tsvangirai to step down.
“There is a team of elders led by a bishop who will be sent to Tsvangirai so that they can convince him to step down as president of the party,” a top MDC-T official said.
ZI, which was between 2009 and 2013 responsible for sourcing and managing donor funds for Jomic — comprising representatives of the three political parties in the inclusive government — was set up in 2008 to monitor the implementation of the Global Political Agreement, precursor to the unity government.
Norwegian ambassador Barb Hopland and negotiators from the two MDC formations who included MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, MDC-T treasurer Elton Mangoma and MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga met on December 2 last year to discuss the vehicle issue, said a source who attended the meeting.
“After the meeting, Jomic co-ordinator Patience Chiradza handed over spare keys to Isaac Maphosa (ZI chairperson) who then directed members of Jomic to surrender the vehicles to him,” he said.
The source further alleged that “ZI has been tasked to look for a possible Tsvangirai replacement and these cars will be used during the consultations countrywide that will take place soon under the auspices of a Zimbabwe Political Parties Dialogue (ZPPD) project.”
However, Maphosa refused to comment, saying he did not want to be in the spotlight.
“Where did you get my number?” he asked. “I am not going to comment on anything on these issues. If you want something concerning Jomic talk to the former negotiators.
“I will get in touch with the media when the processes we are involved in with ZPPD are through.”
Biti refused to comment on Jomic issues, referring all questions to Mangoma.
Mangoma said contrary to reports that some Jomic members are still using the vehicles, all had been withdrawn.
“In as far as I know all the Jomic cars were withdrawn and there are arguments over the distribution of the cars. Donors are still to meet and come up with a conclusion to the matter,” he said.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said it was their decision as co-chairs to give the cars to ZI “for safe-keeping at a storage facility of our choice”.
She denied there was ever any discussion about re-uniting the parties and finding a Tsvangirai successor.
“No such issue was ever raised,” she said.
On the plans they had for the cars, Hopland said: “We have a proposal which ZI is going to consult the co-chairpersons and seek government approval. When we have their reactions, we will take it from there.”
He, however, refuted allegations that the cars would be used to re-unite the parties and finding Tsvangirai’s successor.
“No, that is not correct,” he said in a telephone interview from Johannesburg, South Africa. “I have never spoken to ZI or anyone about re-uniting the MDCs or finding a successor to Tsvangirai”.