Home » Governance » Tsvangirai Faces Demand to Repay U.S.$1.5 Million Rbz Loan

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was said to be so poorly he had to cop out of two high profile weekend rallies in Harare although aides rejected as ludicrous State media claims the former premier was felled by a “mental and maybe a nervous breakdown”.

Tsvangirai is in the throes of a bitter leadership struggle against MDC-T rivals who claim that he has become a specialist in electoral failure, leaving the party with no hope of winning any national vote with him at the helm while the situation on the domestic front is reportedly none too clement either.

However, in typical “kick a man when he is down fashion”‘, NewZimbabwe.com was Tuesday night informed that the former premier’s mounting woes would soon worsen with the addition of a significant financial bother.

Authorities were said to have instructed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to demand repayment of a US$1.5 million housing facility controversially extended to the MDC-T leader in 2009 after he joined government in a coalition administration with President Robert Mugabe.

“The former governor (of the RBZ Gideon Gono) left the loan uncollected. But the new governor is now under instructions to collect the outstanding loan from the ex-PM,” an official familiar with the developments said Tuesday night.

Controversy over the loan has dogged Tsvangirai and Gono, with the MDC-T leader accused of “double dipping” after taking up the facility and then moving into a plush Harare property acquired, upgraded and furnished for him by the government at a cost said to be around US$4 million.

And despite exiting government after his crushing defeat to Mugabe in last July’s elections, Tsvangirai remains ensconced in the luxury home, in a development that was also cited by party rivals trying to force his ouster as MDC-T leader.

“How will you (Tsvangirai) answer the questions that we failed to care enough for our people and that we used our time in government for personal aggrandizement, personal wealth accumulation as symbolized by the current impasse on Highlands residence?” wrote Elton Mangoma in a letter which fanned the party’s leadership dispute.

An appeal for talks with Mugabe over his pension and the potential purchase of the property after the elections only raised even more questions with some in his own party wondering how Tsvangirai had come by the millions of dollars he would need to buy the house.

Party rivals have also wondered how “clear inducements” such as the luxury residence and the US$1,5 million cash aance impacted the MDC-T leader in his dealings with Mugabe during the life of the coalition administration when he often stunned supporters by heaping praise on the Zanu PF leader with whom he regularly enjoyed a cuppa every Monday at State House.

Bosom buddies? Tsvangirai reportedly got loan after MDC-T pulled out of govt

Quizzed on why the RBZ aanced Tsvangirai the cash, our source said the deal was arranged after the first spat to hit the coalition government when the MDC-T temporarily pulled out of the administration, angered by Zanu PF’s refusal to implement so-called outstanding issues.

Tsvangirai will soon get invoice

“The loan was arranged from above … it was simply a housing facility at a critical juncture in our history as a country and a critical juncture in the life of the government of national unity after their (MDC-T) first disengagement (from the coalition government,” said the source.

“How the former prime minister used the money is neither here nor there … but you may recall that he was, later on, able to spring a surprise when he reportedly paid (former wife) Lorcadia Karimatsenga a six figure sum in November 2012 to end their relationship.

“However, he has not repaid a cent and we have a situation now where the government is pressed for money. We expect that Treasury will soon demand that Tsvangirai repay the loan as government is struggling to raise civil servants’ salaries.”

The loan is also at the centre of corruption allegations levelled against Gono by former aisor, Munyaradzi Kereke, who accuses his ex-boss of looting US$37,5 million and some 1,4 million Rand from the practically insolvent central bank.

The case is now set for trial in September after the parties reached an agreement in Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku’s chambers at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

Kereke, now a Member of Parliament, accuses Gono of irregularly aancing Tsvangirai the US$1.5 million loan but the former governor insists the arrangement had the blessings of “higher authorities”.

Gono, who left the RBZ last November after ten years at the helm, would not discuss the deal since the case was now before the courts.

But sources close to the governor said it was important to recall that the ZRP tried to investigate Tsvangirai over the issue.

However the probe screeched to a halt after Mugabe, in his February 2012 birthday message, told the police “to investigate properly and thoroughly their allegations before rushing to harass the PM.”

Loan part of wider allegations

Tsvangirai loan approved from above … Gono insists loan deal was above board

“That statement (by Mugabe) was taken to imply that the President was in the know about the loan. The pressure on the PM regarding the deal then subsided until it was raised again by Kereke in his court papers accusing Gono of impropriety,” said our source.

Regarding the US$37 million and various other amounts Kereke claims Gono looted from the RBZ, a close ally of the former governor warned that revelation of what happened with those funds would not please several others not involved in the court case.

“Gono says he can only disclose the national recipient(s) of the amounts in court on camera because of the State secrets laws known as the Official Secrets Act.

“He contends that he has all the records of who received what during his tenure at the helm of the central bank but cannot disclose unless compelled by the courts.

“Some of what are being peddled as fraudulent or unexplained missing amounts, especially the so-called $37,5 million could be amounts that some people in the RBZ who thought they knew or ought to have known what was happening behind the scenes of statecraft did not actually know.

“Hence when the police tried to go after Tsvangirai’s supposed US$1.5 million fraud at the end of 2011, Mugabe later cautioned them (and) the pressure on the (MDC-T leader) regarding the loan amount subsided.”

The former RBZ chief believes “political forces bent on scuttling his political ascension to the Senate” were behind Kereke’s “malicious and baseless” allegations.

“Remember that Kereke filed his Constitutional Court action in December 2013, three days after the Zanu PF politburo endorsed Gono as senator designate, taking up a position left vacant following the death of Kumbirai Kangai.

“Since then, all tricks in the book have been employed to block Gono from being confirmed and sworn in as senator,” said a source close to the developments.

Source : New Zimbabwe