THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday distanced itself from MDC-T’s extraordinary congress, delivering a blow to the beleaguered party which was seeking to associate itself with the largest labour movement in the country as internal fissures widened over alleged fraud by its interim secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora.
Some party members want Mwonzora suspended for dipping into the party coffers and allegedly “siphoning” $300 000 ahead of the congress where he will battle it out with Thokozani Khupe, party interim chairperson Morgen Komichi and his deputy Elias Mudzuri.
The opposition party, largely formed out of the labour movement, on Monday said it met the ZCTU leadership to sign a code of conduct among other things, but the country’s biggest labour union delivered the jab yesterday, saying it won’t be part of the congress.
The ZCTU presided over the MDC Alliance congress in 2018, where Nelson Chamisa won the presidency.
“The ZCTU is not involved in the MDC-T extraordinary congress. We were never approached,” ZCTU said in a statement.
“ZCTU, as a labour movement, has members across the political divide and individuals like deputy secretary-general Thomas Masvingwe are participating in their individual capacities as supporters of their party.”
The MDC-T extraordinary congress is set for this Saturday subject to police and health authorities’ approval, but suspended national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe has approached the courts seeking its postponement.
The party is also battling internal fissures, with some officials calling for Mwonzora’s suspension for allegedly abusing party funds.
Mwonzora on Monday admitted taking the money, but said it was used to pay a lawyer, Sarudzayi Chitsanga, who had a bereavement, adding that the party owed its lawyers, engaged to fight MDC Alliance, US$100 000.
But party members claimed that there was no signed requisition for the money, accusing Mwonzora of withdrawing the funds working with party director of finance Todd Maingire without the knowledge of other leaders.
A party member, Leonard Chisvo, who has already reported Mwonzora to the police, was fuming yesterday calling for the secretary-general’s suspension.
Chisvo told journalists yesterday that there were fears that some officials were creating their own structures and demanded the immediate suspension of Mwonzora.
“The party received $7,8 million from the Political Parties Finance Act in May this year, and also received another batch of $161 million recently. There has been much concern over the abuse of party funds in MDC-T. There have never been any party programmes funded by the party, but the money has just been abused,” he said.
“Recently, Mwonzora embezzled $300 000 from the party’s BancABC account and it was not authorised nor accounted for.”
Chisvo said Mwonzora gave the loot to his personal lawyer and his presidential campaign manager for the MDC-T’s forthcoming extraordinary congress, adding that his behaviour should not escape punishment.
“Obviously, there was convergence of sinister interests. The money did not flow into any party programmes nor any intended party issue,” Chisvo said.
“The MDC-T members abandoned Chamisa and MDC Alliance accusing them for abusing party funds, lack of transparency and use of militia and lack of democracy. Similarly, Mwonzora has created his own militia and party members are not free to visit the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House due to fear of violence.”
Chisvo accuses Mwonzora of usurping the powers of other party organs such as treasurer, presidency, organising and information and elections departments.
He said just as Bhebhe was suspended and ultimately expelled for alleged indiscipline, the same should be done to Mwonzora who he said was facing serious allegations.
“In this scenario, we expect immediate course of action against Mwonzora. There must be no selective application of the rules of the party” he said.
“The allegation that Mwonzora apologised to the standing committee and was forgiven by the acting party president Khupe is not constitutional. They have no mandate to cover up corruption, fraud and criminal offences in the party.
“What interests do they have to forgive someone who has stolen almost half a million dollars? Ordinary party members are neglected while orphans, widows and the physically harmed due to political tension are not looked after,” he said, adding that the party should act decisively on the matter.
Chisvo demanded the immediate suspension of Mwonzora from the party.
“Urgently investigate the circumstances under which money was withdrawn and take due legal process to ensure that Mwonzora pays back the $300 000 which he withdrew from the bank and abused.
“An urgent reconfiguration of financial bank signatures and accounting books and that the MDC-T leadership perfects all systems and the delegates to congress, including the voters’ role.”