Debt paralyses MDC-T

THE MDC-T is caught up in a vicious debt cycle as it owes more than US$2 million which senior party officials say is crippling the opposition party’s operations and attempts to rejuvenate itself ahead of the 2018 general elections.

Herbert Moyo

The extent of the debt was reportedly disclosed by secretary general Douglas Mwonzora during a National Council meeting recently held in Harare to decide whether or not to participate in the June parliamentary by-elections.

“Mwonzora prepared a statement for the National Council which detailed among other liabilities various debts that are crippling party operations including a US$1, 2 million debt owed in respect of the operation and maintenance of (the party headquarters) Harvest House,” a senior party official said.

“There is a further US$500 000 owed to former workers and yet another R4 million (about US$400 000) owed to a Bulawayo firm, Security Mills. The situation is so bad that the party has also failed to pay a certain company US$1 700 for tickets for Tsvangirai’s recent trip to Washington. The lack of funds is actually one of the reasons why the party is not participating in the by-elections,” the official added.

The by-elections come after the MDC-T successfully petitioned parliament to kick out party MPs who include Tendai Biti (former secretary general), Elton Mangoma (former deputy treasurer) and Gorden Moyo (former Bulawayo province chairperson) who formed the MDC Renewal after calling for Tsvangirai to step down from his position as party president following the party’s drubbing at the July 2013 polls.

Contacted for comment this week, party spokesperson Obert Gutu would neither deny nor confirm the debts.

“Look no party would reveal to the media details of internal deliberations revealing who said what. Everyone, in fact every organisation in the country is going through serious economic challenges but that said, I can tell you the party is alive and kicking,” Gutu said in a telephone interview.

Tsvangirai travelled to the United States last month on what party sources said was a week-long mission to fund-raise for various party programmes, including campaigns to force the Zanu PF government to speed up implementation of electoral reforms and fix the declining economy.

He is said to have raised substantial amounts of money to run party activities, but stringent conditions meant that the donors would be paying directly to service providers, according to the sources.

The MDC-T last October held its congress on a shoe-string budget after being dumped by most of its donors and had to rely heavily on the US$250 000 released by Treasury under the Political Parties (Finance) Act.

The party, currently battling to stem a rising wave of discontent especially in its strongholds of Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provinces, stands to lose US$600 000 for recalling 21 MPs.