MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s continued occupation of a government-provided house is stoking disquiet in the opposition party, with concern increasing this week after it was claimed the former premier owed the State about $3 million for the property.
“It (government house) is compromising him and we can’t afford to give Zanu PF ammunition to divert us from our objective. He has to move out,” a party official who did not want to be named told a local daily this week.
But party spokesman Obert Gutu challenged internal critics to “come forward” instead of complaining in hushed tones.
“If there are people who are saying that, they should come forward; it doesn’t help to have a party member who goes to speak in hushed tones. This is what we expect as democrats,” said Gutu.
Zanu PF legislators this week claimed that acquisition of plush villa, which is located in Harare’s leafy Highlands, area helped increase the $1.4 billion central bank debt the government is now trying to force ordinary Zimbabweans to pay.
Marondera East MP Jeremiah Chiwetu (Zanu PF) claimed that the $3 million used by the RBZ to buy Tsvangirai’s Highlands house when he was Prime Minister had contributed to the contested RBZ debt.
“If we say Tsvangirai should pay back the $3 million, can he manage? He cannot even manage $1 500 per month,” Chiwetu said during debate in Parliament this week.
Chiwetu and other ruling party MPs were responding after MDC-T legislators demanded that top ruling party officials who benefited from the RBZ’s $200 million farm mechanisation scheme pay for the equipment to reduce the central banks debt.
Some in Tsvangirai’s own MDC-T party have expressed concern over the former premier’s refusal to decamp from the property.
“Zanu PF is using that as a weapon to fight him politically and we have to make him see the effects of his continued stay there,” said another party activist.
“Our mission and objective is to fight and win against Zanu PF and in the process, we have to see that he is as clean as possible.”
But Gutu defended his boss.
“It (living at the government house) is above board. Some people want to inflict damage where it’s not due,” he said.
“It was purchased because (President Robert) Mugabe refused to let Tsvangirai use the other State House. He is in that house not out of Mugabe’s benevolence. He was entitled to that,”
“That is a State property and it’s not registered in his name because ownership is not finalised. He (Tsvangirai) used his own money $400 000 as a deposit before government paid a top-up amount.
“He is saying we can’t have the issue hanging and it’s not only him, but other former ministers and deputy ministers who have issues that have to be finalised.”