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Tsvangirai extends begging bowl

THE financial challenges facing the crisis-ridden Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) continue to mount amid indications Tsvangirai is seeking funding from Botswana, Gabon and Ivory Coast.

Herbert Moyo

Highly-placed sources say Tsvangirai, who has been abandoned by traditional international donors, has been forced to turn to regional and a few continental leaders for funding assistance so that he can prepare for an early congress in the aftermath of a raging internal rebellion by some of his top lieutenants calling on him to step down.

Tsvangirai extended the begging bowl to Botswana, where he travelled last Tuesday via Johannesburg aboard an Air Zimbabwe flight.

“He (Tsvangirai) was accommodated at Gaborone’s Phakalane Hotel, but was picked by a jet sent by Khama who was campaigning in the Okavango region for general elections this year,” said a party official.

“They discussed the possibility of Khama injecting some funding and agreed to meet again before the end of this week. As we speak, Tsvangirai has left again for Johannesburg this morning en route to Gaborone,” the source said on Wednesday afternoon.

This might not be the first time Khama has assisted Tsvangirai, as it is claimed that he funded the MDC-T via a company account held at a local branch of a South African bank in the Msasa suburb of Harare.

In addition to Khama, Tsvangirai reportedly wrote to Gabonese and Ivorian leaders Ali Bongo Ondimba and Alassane Ouattara respectively, requesting financial rescue.

“He (Tsvangirai) sent his request to the Ivory Coast via that country’s ambassador Bacary Kone, who also covers Zimbabwe from his base in Johannesburg. Tsvangirai also prepared accompanying dossiers repeating the party’s claims that it lost last year’s general elections because of rigging, intimidation and failure to implement crucial electoral, security sector and media reforms due to resistance by (President Robert) Mugabe’s Zanu PF party during the coalition government.”

The MDC-T is plagued by serious financial challenges and struggled to settle a US$30 000 debt accumulated in Harare for food and accommodation expenses after a district chairpersons meeting held on February 14.

The party is also struggling to pay its workers and indications are that it will not meet its obligations to them this month.

“The situation is precarious,” said a senior party official adding that “even the president (Tsvangirai) who has been pleading for time to settle party debts, is also indebted in his personal capacity.”

Apart from financial problems, the party is battling to deal with serious internal strife generated by, among other things, a letter written last month by deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma suggesting that Tsvangirai should step down after losing last year’s harmonised elections to president Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

Mangoma has since been suspended, a move declared unconstitutional by Biti, thus setting the stage for bruising fights ahead with the spectre of another party split looming large.

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