I did not help found the MDC – Nyoni

Sthembiso Nyoni, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister, had denied allegations that an aid agency she founded was involved in the formation of the MDC.

Sthembiso Nyoni
Sthembiso Nyoni

The claim is in MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai's tell-all memoirs At The Deep End published by Penguin.

Reviewing the book last week, Zanu (PF) Politburo member Prof Jonathan Moyo said the revelation thaty ORAP was instrumental in the formation of the MDC was a "useful disclosure."

"Tsvangirai confirms in his memoirs the widely known fact that the reason the MDC succeeded in Matabeleland is that it rode on the back of the Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP)," Moyo wrote in an article that appeared in the Sunday Mail last week.

On Page 297 of his memoirs Tsvangirai says that "I was particularly keen to observe the impact of the changing times in Bulawayo, Matabeleland and the Midlands. The MDC had the unique advantage of having worked with ORAP in its formative stages".

Building on the same theme on Page 420, Tsvangirai declares that "We sought to overcome the hiatus of ideas, the negation of cruel abandonment of the views of the poor. The MDC had been founded in 1999 at a convention which weighed up the raw date and ZCTU/ORAP Consultative Report that came out of our survey of the national mood".

Moyo said ORAP was thus part of the MDC deal despite "unhelpful denials" from its founders. Nyoni, who was ORAP’s founding president, strenously denied Moyo's claims in a press statement.

"I wish to state that once I was elected MP for Zanu PF in 1994, and subsequently as Deputy Minister of National Housing and Public Construction, I stepped down from the day-to-day management of ORAP as founding Executive Coordinator.

Cornelia Nkomo, a founder staff member, was recalled from studies in the USA to come and lead the management and coordination of the Organisation’s work under the direction of the Board of Advisors," Nyoni's statement says.

"It was during her leadership that a joint survey was conducted with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which covered parts of Matabeleland where ORAP has membership and rural projects. I was not involved with or consulted on this project, and was not aware of it until now."

Nyoni said there there was no ORAP political involvement with the founding of the MDC, and no ORAP support or encouragement of the MDC. "It is amazing, and quite clearly disappointing, that my colleague in the Politburo Professor Jonathan Moyo should, from the foregoing, jump to the conclusion that ‘ORAP was thus part of the MDC deal despite unhelpful denial from its founders’," Nyoni said.

"Indeed, we find his hostility to ORAP amazing, and quite buffling, as this is not the first time he has made unfounded allegations against ORAP."

Nyoni said Moyo's views about ORAP betray a deep ignorance about how ORAP is structured and how it makes its decisions.

"It would be more helpful if he were honest about his hostile agenda towards ORAP or its founder," Nyoni said.

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