New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Camp Rejects Cash Abuse Allegations

THE MDC-T camp backing Morgan Tsvangirai to remain leader has denied allegations by rivals that the former prime minister abused party funds.

Tsvangirai is battling to see off a push for his ouster by disgruntled colleagues who feel that successive failure to win elections and continuing scandals in his personal life have made the veteran trade unionist a huge liability to the party.

A letter written to a local daily by a person claiming to be exiled national treasurer Roy Bennett urged Tsvangirai to quit or risk disgrace with the release of damaging information regarding abuse of party funds.

"We shall be releasing more damaging information concerning abuse of party funds by Tsvangirai and his friends in due course," wrote the person. "We advised him to resign with his dignity intact, but since he has made his bed, he must lie in it."

Insiders claim Tsvangirai used party funds for the reported US$300,000 pay-off to ex-lover, and wife of a few weeks, Lorcadia Karimatsenga.

The MDC-T leader has also offered to buy from government the US$4 million Harare mansion he used as Prime Minister, leaving activists wondering where he got the cash.

Party spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora, a member of the pro-Tsvangirai camp questioned the authenticity of the alleged Bennett letter but went on to insist that the former premier had nothing to hide.

"The MDC is totally astounded by the letter ... attributed to Roy Bennett," said Mwonzora in a statement.

"If indeed Bennett genuinely wanted an audit into the MDC finances then he would have made his request to the Standing Committee, the National Executive or the National Council of the Party justifying his reasons for such a demand.

"It is in fact Tsvangirai who has demanded transparency in the handling of the finances of the party. Time and time again the (party leader) has demanded that the National Executive should be furnished with detailed reports on the party's finances periodically.

"It is a pity when an impression is created that the President is an impediment to transparency. A simple glance at Tsvangirai's history in the ZCTU, SATUC and as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe clearly shows that he indeed is a man of financial integrity when it comes to running organisations."

Mwonzora said if anyone had to be transparent about party finances it was Bennett as the national treasurer.

"The custodian of party funds is the Treasurer General of the Party. It is from him that transparency is expected and not from officials who have nothing to do with financial management," he said.

Mwonzora warned that any attempt to try and force Tsvangirai to step down outside of clear party processes would not succeed.

"Trying to force Tsvangirai to resign through threats of exposure of financial impropriety is to try to effect leadership change through extortion and this is highly unacceptable in a democratic party," he said.

"The MDC knows that Zanu PF is afraid to face Tsvangirai in future elections and is investing heavily in trying to get our President removed as leader of the MDC.

"The National Executive and the National Council of the Party have laid the party's position on leadership and the position is that National leaders will be elected or removed by congress.

"It is therefore not acceptable for any person to try to effect leadership changes outside the Congress because such a move will not be democratic.

"Our leaders are democratically elected and therefore attempts by a financially powerful few individuals to impose a leader on the MDC will be resisted by the membership of MDC and it will fail."

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