MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai returned from his much-hyped trip to the United Kingdom almost empty-handed after his fundraising dinner in Birmingham on July 26 was a huge flop which managed to raise just over £400 (about US$675).

Of the £420 realised, only £140 reached party coffers, while the other £240 covered the cost of the actual meals.

A list of people who bought dinner tables in Birmingham seen by The news crew showed that only eight members of the party's UK-Ireland external assembly paid for the dinner. Initially, the dinner tables were pegged at £100 each, but the figure was slashed to £50 after people complained that the amount was too high.

Mr Tsvangirai's spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka distanced his boss from the dinner, saying it was the initiative of the party's UK-Ireland Province. He said he could not divulge the amount realised from the dinner simply because news reporters had asked for it.

"The president went to Birmingham to address a rally and the dinner was an internal thing by the UK-Ireland external assembly. I cannot come up with figures just to disapprove your newspaper, but you can talk to the UK-Ireland external assembly because they are the ones who hosted it."

But information at hand showed that provincial chairman of the UK-Ireland external assembly Tonderai Sanyanga, provincial secretary Owen Muganda, provincial organising secretary Elliot Pfebve, district chairman of the North district Fungai Chikowore and vice chairperson of the Midlands North who was only identified as H Mushangi, bought dinner tables at 50 pound sterling each.

Midlands North treasurer Kumbirai Chikosha and Southwest district chairperson Edgar Makoni also bought tables for the same amount, while Rhodesday Mangunda, who is a member of the Northwest district, went for an expensive table at 70 pound sterling.

An MDC-T official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the dinner was a monumental flop and efforts to pursue other fundraising avenues were futile after the Labour party spawned a request by Mr Tsvangirai for a meeting.

The official also intimated that Mr Tsvangirai was almost stranded soon after his arrival in London after it emerged that no one had booked his hotel accommodation.

Mr Pfebve, the source said, had to take a personal initiative to book for the six member delegation that also included Mr Tsvangirai's wife Elizabeth Macheka and her younger sister.

"The arrangements were not done properly because of the lack of funds. Accommodation was the main challenge that the president faced and Mr Pfebve had to intervene using his personal resources," said the source.

Mr Tsvangirai travelled to the United Kingdom last month at the invitation of Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

He delivered a lecture on the topic: "Zimbabwe after the disputed election, the way forward".

MDC-T is facing crippling financial challenges after donors abandoned it following its humiliating defeat by Zanu-PF in last year's harmonised elections.



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