Takunda Maodza, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe People First leader Dr Joice Mujuru has revealed that problems within her party are a result of a fight by senior politicians over British funds.
She singled out Messrs Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo as having diverted funds which came to the party from Britain to personal use.
Mr Gumbo confirmed the party received money from foreign funders, but alleged that Dr Mujuru pocketed all of it.
The party’s actions are in breach of the Political Parties Finance Act, which bars all political parties from receiving financial support from outside the country.
The Act was enacted in 2002 after it emerged that some political parties were getting funding from hostile foreign governments and non-governmental organisations.
Under the Act, only a political party that secures five percent of the total votes cast can benefit from the fiscus.
Addressing a provincial meeting of her supporters in Bindura on Monday, Dr Mujuru said Western funders were now shunning the opposition party because of the abuse of funds by the senior members.
Our Harare Bureau is in possession of a voice recording where she makes the stunning revelations.
Explaining the source of conflict in ZimPF to the party supporters, Dr Mujuru said problems started when Mr Kudakwashe Bhasikiti’s bid to be appointed national youth chairperson failed.
This was after youths protested against the appointment of Mr Bhasikiti to the position because of his age.
“We had introduced Bhasikiti as chairman and youths said we want a youth to lead us,” said Dr Mujuru. “I said we should listen to the people as our name is People First. I did not know that I had started a war with some people.
“Bhasikiti was angry and he removed himself from the youths position.”
Added Dr Mujuru: “They thought I had influenced the youths to recommend that Bhasikiti cannot be national youth chairperson. They organised what they called Chirenje and started visiting provinces.
“The Chirenje group would meet at Gumbo or Mutasa’s house. The whole story reached Britain. It was from Britain where they got resources, money.
Money that was supposed to fund the party, but I did not get a cent. One pondo zvayo tsvuku handina kumboiona. Mutasa would receive the money.”
Dr Mujuru said the person who was handling the British funds had to visit her to seek clarity.
“The man brought laptops containing the information, but I refused to be sucked into the matter,” she said. “I was afraid the laptops might have been meant to trap me.”
Dr Mujuru reiterated that the British funds were the beginning of ZimPF’s problems.
“It caused a lot of talk within the party,” she said. “We told them (Mutasa and Gumbo) that funding must follow procedures, but as senior as they were, they did not listen.
“When we started the party, I had said let us not put money first. I said let us build the party using money from our own pockets. They are no more donors giving huge amounts like what happened to Tsvangirai at Banket. Those farmers (who were captured on television giving Tsvangirai money in 2000) are no longer there.
“They have left. Those that used to give him money are now sceptical whether it is being used for its purpose.”
Mr Gumbo yesterday shot down Dr Mujuru’s assertions, claiming it was the ZimPF leader who pocketed foreign funds.
“Can you believe it? It is propaganda,” he said. “We do not have a cent. She raised money in the UK, Sweden and Rwanda where she went looking for support and we did not get a cent.”
Dr Mujuru visited Britain in October last year where she was reported to be on a fund raising mission through that country’s Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs, also known as Chatham House, where she gave a speech.