TENSION is rising in the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe ahead of its extraordinary congress slated for this weekend after reports that secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora raided the party’s account and diverted $300 000 without the knowledge of other party leaders.
The missing funds after the party allegedly received $61 million from government under the Political Parties Finance Act a fortnight ago and Mwonzora, with the aid of the finance director Tody Mapingire, reportedly transferred $300 000 into the account of one of their lawyers without Khupe’s knowledge.
Khupe last Monday allegedly convened an emergency meeting to deliberate on the issue.
At the meeting, Mwonzora is said to have said he took the money to assist the lawyer after a bereavement and apologised for the “fraud”.
According to party insiders, under normal circumstances, the finance and administration committee deliberates on the expenses and the president then authorises the withdrawal after consulting the chairman, secretary-general and treasurer-general, which was not done in this case.
A party member, Leornard Chisvo has already reported a fraud case against Mwonzora and Mapingire to the police at Highlands Police Station and the matter was recorded under RRB4586626. The report was made on Friday.
MDC-T deputy treasurer-general Chief Ndlovu confirmed the case in a circular to party members titled Unauthorised Withdrawal/Payment of $300 000 From Treasury.
Ndlovu said he was “obliged to respond to the accusations and suspicion that has been fuelled by my silence to put the record straight”.
“It is true that the only person who was supposed to make payments of any nature from the party coffers is the treasurer as you have been aware. I am, however, not the only person with access. I would like the party membership to know that I had no hand in the transfer of $300 000 out of the party account. The truth of the matter is that I only got to know about that transaction after it had gone through.
“I only got the details of the transfer when I got into the finance and administration meeting. The secretary-general (Mwonzora) explained that he made the transfer and gave details. This is now known to the party leadership and the whole standing committee to which the SG apologised and I am sure it is being handled by the leadership.
“As your treasurer-general, I will always handle financial matters with honesty and trustworthiness.”
But Mwonzora, in a statement dated December 8, said the allegations were unfounded, claiming that party funds were fully accounted for. He blamed political gamesmanship ahead of the party congress for “the smear campaign” against him”.
Mwonzora said the administration of the party funds were guided by the party constitution and finance and administration rules developed in 2001.
“Periodically, through the treasurer-general, the party provides financial reports to the national executive committee. Further, it is impossible for any individual to get money out of the party without the other leaders’ knowledge,” Mwonzora said.
“One of the rules in the party is that when it comes to internal elections, individual candidates source their own funds and are not funded by the party. The reports coming from the social media are simply part of a smear campaign against some candidates and have to be dismissed as such.”
However, sources within the party said the constitution allowed the finance director to order a withdrawal, which they claimed Mwonzora did.
Chisvo said he was too committed to talk about the issue, promising to call back when pressure eased.
Party national chairman Morgen Komichi refused to comment, referring questions to party spokesperson Kalipani Phugeni, who was not picking calls.
Phugeni, seen as a Khupe loyalist, said the development was concerning.
“I am not sure of what really happened regarding the $300 000, but I am sure I will get the full details during the next national standing committee meeting. What we have are statements from the secretary-general and the one from the treasurer-general. The statements are at war and the contradictions are a worrying trend that we should look at during the next meeting. It is a big cause for concern.”
Mwonzora is battling it out with Khupe for the party presidency. Komichi and deputy national chairman Elias Mudzuri are also in the presidential race.
Khupe’s backers are allegedly agitated over the $300 000 heist and pushing to have Mwonzora suspended before the congress.