Home » Governance » MDC-T in Financial Ruin

THE turmoil rattling the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) has everything to do with a deepening financial crisis as the party’s traditional donors have turned off the taps, disillusioned by the dearth in effective leadership capable of taking the change agenda forward.

Insiders within the party said since its formation in 1999, the MDC had been kept intact not by its ideological orientation but the desire to topple ZANU-PF, an agenda that had been kept alive by the benevolence of its funders.

They said the long-drawn 15-year old struggle to remove ZANU-PF from power, had not been anticipated by those who pull the purse strings to stretch beyond 10 years. Consequently, fatigue has set in as President Robert Mugabe’s party continues to recover the ground it had lost over the years.

As early as 2005, the MDC family had started fighting among themselves, with Welshman Ncube and his splinter group being the first to cut ties with Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC-T’s participation in the unity government created more problems for the party as some of its alliance partners, among them the National Constitutional Assembly and the

Commercial Farmers Union lost faith in Tsvangirai’s party after it found some areas of cooperation with ZANU-PF, which they could not agree with. Now, there is upheaval in the MDC-T with some of its senior leaders calling on Tsvangirai to quit saying he has failed the movement.

But those who claim to be in the know say the financial strain has contributed to the turmoil, with workers having gone for months without pay. They said the ZANU-PF administration has compounded the crisis by withholding funds meant for the MDC-T under the Political Parties (Finance) Act. The Act stipulates the requirements for accessing public funds not only to run elections, but to finance political party activities even outside the electoral arena.

By law, any political party that garners at least five percent of the vote in the previous election is eligible to receive public fees. To date, only two political parties — ZANU-PF and the MDC-T — qualify for the privilege.

Eddie Cross, the MDC-T’s Bulawayo South legislator, told the media recently that the party had spent all the money it had during and immediately after elections, as well as in retrenchment packages for 60 percent of the party’s staff laid off soon after the polls. Cross said since then, there had been no replenishments.

“We spent all the money on elections. We were left with US$1 million in our kit after the elections. We spent half of the money on electoral court challenges and 90 percent of the challenges were unsuccessful,” he said.

Party spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said that what had affected their coffers the most has been government not remitting to the MDC-T what is due to them as a political party according to the Political Parties Finance Act.

“For this year and last year, government has not remitted to us monies which they are supposed to give us according to the law – US$1,5 million last year and similar amount his year, making a total of US$3 million that we have been prejudiced of,” Mwonzora said. He, however, denied that donor funds had dried up.

“We do have some donors still, however, they fund specific programmes or items for example, regalia, fuel etc,” he said. Resources for the MDC-T have been, to a large extent, channelled through the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) platform. This explains why all the NGOs, with the exception of parallel ones (normally one band outfits) formed by ZANU-PF, are loosely linked to the MDC-T.

Traditionally, very little funds have been raised by the party internally by way of subscriptions and donations, which also explains why the local voices have little sway over the developments in the MDC-T. To keep the party afloat, the MDC-T has now introduced subscriptions and underwriting fees.

Members of Parliament and those of the national executive would pay once off underwriting fee of US$100, while the standing committee would pay US$150 each. Provincial executive members would pay US$10, while district executive and ordinary members would pay US$1 each. There will also be monthly subscriptions of 50 cents for each party member.

“We are underwriting our own struggle,” Mwonzora told the Financial Gazette. According to Mwonzora while the party has a database of 600, 000 people, it has a membership base of 1,2 million members.

Source : Financial Gazette