BY RICHARD MUPONDE
FIERCE fights over money and a voters’ roll that was found to be in shambles scuppered the second attempt by the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T to hold its congress to elect a new leader, it has emerged.
The aborted congress had been scheduled for Harare yesterday, but was postponed at the eleventh hour after Khupe and her main rival Douglas Mwonzora were involved in a vicious battle over the voters’ roll, which was allegedly manipulated.
After the cancellation of the congress, another war erupted over US$29 000 that was allegedly given to some delegates clandestinely, it has emerged.
By yesterday evening some delegates from outside Harare were camped outside MDC-T headquarters in central Harare demanding to meet Khupe after she allegedly blocked the disbursement of transport allowances.
The disgruntled members are said to be Mwonzora’s supporters.
Earlier in the day MDC-T’s standing committee was forced to hold an emergency meeting at another aspiring president Elias Mudzuri’s house because of the stand-off at Harvest House.
“That is why the national standing committee meeting was held at Mudzuri’s house, there were some stranded delegates at the party headquarters,” said a senior party official.
“It was also feared that Mwonzora’s youth militia could turn violent.”
Khupe, Mwonzora, Mudzuri and Morgen Komichi are vying for the MDC-T presidency.
Komichi was given the assignment to ensure there is a new voters’ roll on time for the congress now to be held on December 27.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora and the party’s deputy treasurer general Chief Ndlovu, a Khupe ally, allegedly exchanged harsh words during Friday’s meeting over the party’s finances.
Ndlovu is said to have accused Mwonzora of abusing party funds to further his own interests.
Last week MDC-T had absolved Mwonzora over allegations that he misused $300 000 that belonged to the party.
The latest allegations that another US$29 000 was abused are said to have led to criminal charges being laid against party finance director Tody Maingire.
Police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Paul Nyathi, however, said he was not aware of any case against Maingire.
Mwonzora said allegations about the missing money and the voters’ roll were meant to tarnish his image.
“No. I am sick and tired of these lies,” Mwonzora said without elaborating.
Meanwhile, MDC-T acting spokesperson Tapiwa Mashakada yesterday downplayed the rift in the party over finances and the voters roll.
“Yesterday (Friday) we met at our party headquarters to review progress by the various organs of the party in preparations of the congress,” Mashakada told journalists.
“It was agreed by consensus of all the party leadership including the candidates, interim president Khupe, Senators Mwonzora, Komichi and Mudzuri, that given the circumstances, it was prudent to postpone it to a later date to put all logistics in place and update the voters’ roll.”
He said the reason for yesterday’s meeting was to fix a new date for the congress to allow the party to fully prepare for the event.
“We hope that all the logistics will be done,” Mashakada added.
“The party is a big party; we are looking at 5 000 delegates, so it’s important to come up with a credible voters’ roll.
“We have people who left the party going to other parties, resigned, and some died so we are dealing with all this to beat the court-given deadline of December 31.”
Mashakada also dismissed as unfounded allegations that money had been stolen from the party coffers.
In October, the MDC-T was given up to November 30 to hold the extraordinary congress to select a new leader after missing the July deadline that was set by the Supreme Court.