MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured) may be living behind the high walls of the posh Highlands home he moved into during his tenure as prime minister during the unity government (2009-2013), but life is not a bed of roses anymore for the veteran politician who has since extended his begging bowl to the donor community seeking funds for party and personal upkeep.
The sun seems to have set on the opposition politician ever since his controversial defeat in the 2013 elections by long-time foe President Robert Mugabe in polls the opposition alleged were rigged.
Despite living large during the inclusive government era, Tsvangirai is said to be literary broke to the extent that he can accept any amount offered to him by his close associates.
Party insiders also said some of his legislators are contributing US$50 per month for his upkeep. “Since his defeat in last year’s elections, Tsvangirai, and our party, has been struggling financially. We are really broke.
The party is penniless and can’t afford the wage bill anymore, which is around plus, minus US$40 000. Despite claims that our members and supporters will fund the party, it’s clear they can’t afford to do that. People are already struggling and suffering due to the current economic problems and have no money to fund a party,” a senior MDC-T official said.
“That’s why we as a party are now reengaging donors looking for funding. As for Tsvangirai himself, he is one of the worst affected party leaders because he has no professional qualifications to fall back on. He is badly broke and is relying on friends and party members for help to get the barest means of support and sustenance. He is not destitute but he is living a hand-to-mouth existence, getting just enough to live on. MPs are supposed to contribute US$50 a month towards his upkeep, but some pay and some don’t. Things are very hard.”
However, Tsvangirai is not alone in that predication. Most Zimbabweans are in a similar situation as the economy continues to nosedive due to government’s leadership and policy failures.
During the coalition government era, Tsvangirai traversed the length and breadth of the world, mixing it up with rich and famous among world leaders as well as business tycoons celebrities and hung out in luxurious lodgings.
At one time Tsvangirai hogged the limelight after reports he had been given a whooping US$500 000 from Britain’s Westminster Foundation.
He reportedly took out US$300 000 from that amount to pay former wife Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo in an out of court settlement, although some reports claimed the money came from Botswana.
Tsvangirai subsequently married Elizabeth Macheka and treated her to a lavish honeymoon in the United Kingdom that included a boat cruise on London’s famed River Thames following a controversial customary wedding in September 2012.
The free-spending Tsvangirai even earned the nickname “Legend of Seas” at a time ordinary Zimbabweans were living in abject poverty after taking a girlfriend Nosipho Shilubane on an expensive seafaring on a boat cruise during a holiday in Seychelles. The cruise ship was called Legend of the seas.
Tsvangirai was linked to a string of girlfriends at the height of his power and prosperity.
But the end of the inclusive government following the controversial 2013 elections resulted in a downturn in Tsvangirai’s fortunes with reports that the party was broke and failing to pay its workers, many of whom were subsequently laid off.
Even his personal finances have deteriorated so much that maintaining the plush Highlands mansion is now difficult, although party insiders said Tsvangirai is desperate to keep it. “He is now struggling to pay his bills; even for groceries, fuel and airtime. He is going through a hard time,” another party official said.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said yesterday the party president is not a destitute case that he should be looked after by his legislators and well-wishers.
“Such rumours are hogwash; our president is not destitute. He is party president and it is not the duty of the legislators to look after his upkeep,” Gutu said.
“We are not seeking donors for that. We are a party that is busy restructuring and that cannot be done without financial resources.”
Gutu also said the legislators do not even have money for their own upkeep because they do not get what they should from this cash-strapped government. — Staff Writers.