The MDC-T’s worst enemy

Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Theresa Makone

I was quite disturbed when I read a story that Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Theresa Makone was being grilled over party finances.

According to the story, the party’s national council grilled Makone because the party structures and employees were unhappy with how the party’s dwindling resources were being managed.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with Makone in 2015 over what had happened to an organisation called the Global Alliance for Zimbabwe which was formed in 2011 by MDC-T treasurer, Roy Bennett, ostensibly to raise funds for the party to contest the next elections after the inclusive government.

At the time it was anticipated that the elections, which were already overdue in terms of the Global Political Agreement which ushered the inclusive government, would be held in 2012.

GAZ was registered as a non-profit in Washington DC but the MDC-T was broke when it contested the 2013 elections which it lost dismally.

Makone said she did not know whether the GAZ had raised any money or not, but when she was elected treasurer of the party, after its split in 2014, there was only $53 in the bank.

I found this very odd because the GAZ had powerful people on its board as well as powerful lobbyists to raise funds for it.

Apart from Bennett, some of the key board members of the GAZ were Larry LaRocco a two-term United States congressman, former United States ambassador J.D. Bindenagel, former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee, and Zimbabwean businessman Kevin James.

James was one of the major shareholders of CFI, a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed company, before he left for South Africa where he founded Country Bird Holdings which was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange but has since been delisted.  He owns the KFC franchise in Zimbabwe.

One of the lobbyists for GAZ was Ben Goddard, who was described by the Washington Post as the “Godfather of TV lobbying”.

Goddard was best known for his “Harry and Louise” television advertising campaign which helped to kill off President Bill Clinton’s proposed health care plan in 1993–1994 and Congressional health care reform proposals in 1994.

He also worked for President Jimmy Carter and helped to create the first ever political advertising campaign in Russia for President Boris Yeltsin.

Makone was now telling me that this formidable team had failed to raise funds for the MDC-T, or if it did, the money never got to the party.

Ironically party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said GAZ was formed without his knowledge.  I found this unbelievable because of the wide publicity it got at its launch. One of the guest speakers was Grace Kwinje, a close ally of Tsvangirai.

But what struck me most at my meeting with Makone was her statement that the worst enemies of the MDC-T were the party treasurer and secretary-general.

She said it was these two that had been responsible for the splits within the party so far.

The party’s first secretary-general Welshman Ncube was responsible for the 2005 split and broke away with treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube and others.

Tendai Biti, who replaced Ncube, left the party in 2014 together with treasurer Roy Bennett and his deputy Elton Mangoma. Bennett was the first to call for Tsvangirai to step down but he did not join Biti or Mangoma when they formed their own parties after leaving the MDC-T.

Makone insinuated that in both cases the secretary-general and the treasurer had left the party coffers empty.

Now I wondered, what was happening?

Was someone just trying to create trouble for Makone because reports said Tsvangirai came to her rescue?

Had the pattern changed because the story said the secretary-general’s office was not happy with her performance too?

Ironically, when I met Makone, she was in the company of secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, who as a lawyer was defending the party in a High Court case in Bulawayo.

Maybe the only consolation is that the major splits so far have occurred just a few months after the elections, and not before the elections. – The Insider

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