Home Africa News Stressed Mwonzora moves to sell off MDC property to pay bills

Stressed Mwonzora moves to sell off MDC property to pay bills


THE once formidable opposition MDC’s vast property empire is under threat as party leader Douglas Mwonzora bids to sell some of its prized assets to raise money to settle arrears, including utility bills, salaries and other operating costs, while also raising cash for himself, insiders say.

Sources said the party’s properties include its headquarters Harvest House, now known as Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House, in central Harare, residential stands, provincial offices and 25 safe houses bought and donated by well-wishers since the party’s formation in 1999.

Some of the properties such as provincial offices are registered under a company called Laphonic Investments formed during the late founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership.

The company’s directors at inception included senior party officials, particularly Tendai Biti, Elton Mangoma and Theresa Makone.

The MDC was founded in September 1999 by Tsvangirai and his Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union and professional colleagues such Gibson Sibanda, Isaac Matongo, Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti, Gift Chimanikire, Fletcher Dulini Ncube, Tapiwa Mashakada, David Coltart, Thokozani Khupe, Tafadzwa Musekiwa, Job Sikhala, Learnmore Jongwe, Evelyn Masaiti, Esaph Mdlongwa, Morgen Komichi and Pauline Mpariwa.

The party split starting 2005 and several times after that, but the MDC-T faction led by Tsvangirai remained the main formation until his death in February 2018.

When Tsvangirai died, Nelson Chamisa took over amid a fierce succession battle with Khupe. After the 2018 elections, Mwonzorwa seized the MDC-T and the MDC-Alliance backed by Zanu PF and the courts. He was assisted by state agents to physically seize control of the party headquarters.

After his ascendancy to the helm of the party following a controversial court ruling, apparently with Zanu PF and state assistance, Mwonzora changed the directors to include himself, Mashakada and Julius Musevenzi.

Properties listed under Laphonic entail the MDC provincial offices for Harare in Highfield and other regional offices in Kwekwe, Bindura, Marondera, Chinhoyi, Gweru and Masvingo, sources said.

There is also a stand under the company in Harare’s Kopje area and two others in Mutare, they said.

Further, Mwonzora is now exerting pressure on party structures to sell some of the properties to raise funds for the party and himself.

His moves started in earnest in August during a party standing committee meeting in Harare as he sought a resolution to first sell properties occupied by the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) in Chinhoyi, Kwekwe and Bulawayo.

“Manoeuvres to sell party properties are underway. Mwonzora wants to sell the properties to settle bills and raise money for himself. He is saying if we sell the properties now at our greatest time of need, we will replace them when the time comes. His intention is to sell the properties at higher prices, pay bills and then buy cheaper ones so, while keeping some of the money in the process,” said a source.

MDC Bulawayo offices were at an advanced stage of being sold, but the deal fell through when the prospective buyer demanded title deeds, which Mwonzora did not have. Some of the people who donated properties to the party withheld the title deeds. The sources said Mwonzora also wants to sell off the MDC’s 25 safe houses which were used to provide refuge to party members and supporters whenever they were under threat from Zanu PF or the state.

“There is also the issue of the 25 safe houses which the party owns.

Mwonzora also wants to sell them. Currently he is keeping with him documents for the safe houses which he got from Toendepi Shonhe (former MDC director-general) who used to manage them during the Tsvangirai era.

Shonhe surrendered the papers to Mwonzora under a certain arrangement. As for the Harvest House, Mwonzora has put a price tag of US$3.5 million on it,” a source said.

Sources said Mwonzora’s motivation is to collect state funds that were due to the MDC before the recent elections and raise more money from sale of the properties.

The Political Parties (Finance) Act provides for the financing of political parties by the state; to prohibit foreign donations to parties and candidates. Mwonzora has collected millions that were disbursed to the MDC under the law.

He got US$45 000 just before the August elections.

The sources said Mwonzora also pocketed US$8 000 from an Indian firm that wanted to rent part of Harvest House.

The expectation was that the money would be used to pay outstanding salaries of workers, but sources said Mwonzora insisted that he wanted to use it to travel to the United Kingdom to attend the Labour Party’s congress held recently from 8-11 October.

“Mwonzora’s deals are dodgy and messy. There is now a stand-off with the Indians who want to rent some of the party’s space as a Chinese company was also given a lease to rent the same section of the building. Attempts to evict a tenant renting the former regalia shop selling groceries to pave way for the Indians has hit a brick wall. The Indians now want to go to court,” said the source.

Mwonzora’s spokesperson Llyod Damba said issues against his boss were unfounded. “For your own information, the President does not micro-manage every department and he is not the party treasurer.

Those are malicious rumours peddled by enemies of the party. Your question is administrative, so the best person to answer those stupid malicious stories of yours is Tapiwa Mashakada and the treasurer-general Brain Dube,” he said.

Mashakada was not reachable while Dube did not respond to questions sent to him. Chengetrai Guta, the MDC director of information and publicity, said: “First, it was MDC workers have kicked out Mwonzora and taken over MRT House, then it was Zesa and police lock our headquarters for illegal connections and now this? There is no truth in all that. Those are frivolous and malicious allegations which cannot be sustained.”

Contacted for comment, Mwonzora said: “I am not interested in your rubbish. So unprofessional, so cheap. We are no longer talking to you and your publications. You are unprofessional and biased against the MDC. I have advised our officials never to have anything to do with you. If you continue defaming us we will have no option but to sue you.” NewsHawks


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