Chihuri responds re MDC finances

LONDON - Silence Chihuri has responded to the article entitled 'The other MDC in UK' carried in last week's edition, in which his actions as treasurer of the MDC, UK were queried. He has exercised his right of reply as follows: "The writer mentions that money from party card sales is yet to be a

ccounted for by myself as former Treasurer. I would like a full explanation from the writer as regards the meaning of that assertion.

“As those familiar with the activities of the MDC in the UK know, I set up a very unique system whereby I was only a ceremonial treasurer. Branches handled all the money from card sales and they in turn deposited any such monies into the MDC Trust Account. In fact I was at one time at loggerheads with the MDC leadership in Zimbabwe regarding the accounting for money sent through the Trust Account.

“I at some point ordered all Branches in the UK to stop sending money through the Trust account until such time we got feedback on money already sent. As of now, the only people who need to account for any MDC card money are Branch Chairmen and Treasurers. Some Branches have already done so to me.

“MDC Zimbabwe Treasurer Fletcher Dulini at one time had to fax a letter to me confirming that it was indeed still the best way to send money to Zimbabwe through the Trust Account. The issue was also a subject of comprehensive discussion in a meeting we held with Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube and the MDC UK Executive in London, when Tsvangirai had to declare boldly that whoever had ordered people to stop paying money in the Trust Account was wrong and that the procedure had to be resumed with immediate effect. The meeting agreed to this.

“I would like whoever wrote the article in your newspaper to explain him/herself fully and state why they are trying to tarnish my image. I would like that part of the article immediately retracted or if not so then the author should promptly furnish me with any information of which my short memory could be depriving me.

“I do understand that lately things have not gone as we would have like them to. I have also publicly stated a number of issues that could have been viewed as unusually critical. However my criticism is not based on malice, but on constructive and confidential engagement. I do not mind being criticised on the same token, but I will not tolerate the kind of irresponsible remarks that a few misguided elements have sought to associate with my name.

“My lawyers are already on another case following similarly disparaging comments by another uninformed and irresponsible individual.”

Our correspondent, Mubvongodzi, responds:

The system whereby branches send money directly to the Trust account is correct as described.

There is or has been an MDC UK account, which Mr Chihuri has repeatedly asked that moneys from card sales be transferred through. What he describes in his statement is the status quo, which he has apparently now accepted. Meanwhile, it is widely believed that there should have been money in the account – there were tales a couple of years ago of money raised through commercial donors in Scotland. However this may all have been exaggeration. No-one publicly knows if there is money in the old District account or not.

Whether any money from card sales at different branches has gone into the UK District account as originally requested by the Treasurer or not has not been reported on by the Treasurer.

Whether there has been any money in the District account from any source or not, and how this has been disposed of, has not been reported on by the Treasurer. This has been allowed to happen because of the Political Parties Finance Act. However, it is widely held that money from card sales, unlike other monies, would be exempt from the Act, thought this has never been tested legally.

As a minimum, it should be possible for the Treasurer to have given an account of those branches who submitted receipts of deposits into the Trust account. It should have been possible to balance these against the numbers of cards issued to branches, and where the cards have all been issued and accounted for, these branches should have been issued with fresh cards.

This is the process that should have been there from the beginning, and the Treasurer, who until January 2006 was Silence Chihuri, was expected to report on this. This has not happened.

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