IT NEVER rains but pours for beleaguered MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa as he is now failing to pay party workers while his erstwhile comrades in the divided opposition party are plotting to lay criminal charges against him.
This comes as it emerged that scores of MDC MPs are on the verge of jumping ship to join the Thokozani Khupe-led faction that has acquiesced to the Supreme Court judgment that ordered the country’s biggest opposition party to revert to its pre-2014 structures and hold an extraordinary congress to choose a substantive president.
Khupe is currently the interim president of the party that now boasts within its ranks the reinstated party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and national chairperson Morgen Komichi.
The shocking revelations that workers at the party headquarters have gone for two months without getting their salaries also comes at a time when government hinted that it will be giving the Khupe-led faction the lion’s share of funds provided under the Political Parties Finance Act.
In an interview with the Daily News, Mwonzora said efforts to engage the Chamisa faction have thus far hit a brickwall as the “other side has not been cooperative”.
He, however, warned that further resistance could result in the party hurling the likes of Chamisa to the police to lay criminal charges.
“We have not been furnished with the financial statements from the previous administration and we are in the process of finding out what the old administration did and we are still trying to find out.
“We do not know where the money for the wages of workers went, we don’t know where the more than $4 million they got last year went. Workers have told us that they have not been paid in the past two months. We are not sure about the $4,5 million that was received by the party last year.
“We are in the process of redressing the humanitarian situation of the employees because they are the most affected by this lockdown and also failure on the leadership to pay them. What we noticed is that over 141 employees had been laid off unlawfully thus condemning them to poverty but we have since redressed that.
“In the absence of the explanation of where the money went we could take criminal proceedings, as for now we do not have knowledge of what happened, we have required information from the previous administration on where the money is and we hope to get co-operation from them before we proceed to lay criminal charges if that is necessary,” said Mwonzora.
Several MDC workers who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity confirmed that they have not been receiving their salaries.
The secretary-general in the Chamisa-led MDC faction, Chalton Hwende, confirmed that they are yet to pay workers but attributed this to the coronavirus-induced national lockdown.
“The workers were paid in January and February. We only have March which is outstanding and which was affected by the lockdown. We are, however, in the process of ensuring that any outstanding payments are paid off,” said Hwende.
But events in the past few weeks have been far from gratifying for the party that was founded by the late Morgan Tsvangirai in 1999 as the wheels are slowly coming off with another split now almost imminent.
In a major boost to the Mwonzora faction, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told a local daily that although government is yet to disburse this year $7,5 million that is due to the opposition due to Treasury focus on the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the MDC as confirmed by the Supreme Court is set to get the lion’s share since it is the biggest party in terms of parliamentary representation.
“The money has not been released because of Covid-19, but I think claims by the Mwonzora group are correct. My understanding is that the Alliance is a grouping of several parties and the MDC is the bigger party in that Alliance so they have to agree on how the money should be shared among them,” said Ziyambi.
In yet another blow to Chamisa, Mwonzora claimed that the majority of people who were in the 2014 structures have already indicated that they will be attending the extraordinary congress that should be held in the next three months. “For now, we interested in the delegates who will be coming to the congress and not in everyone, we will meet everyone after the congress.
“Of course, we have had limitations that have been placed by the health situation. However, in terms of preparations, we are at an advanced stage and we are going to elect a new MDC president soon,” said Mwonzora.