UMD breaks silence on Mutumwa Mawere links

The United Movement for Democracy (UMD) has finally broken its silence on its links with self-exiled businessman Mutumwa Mawere during an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean.

Mutumwa Mawere
Mutumwa Mawere

Mutumwa has been reported by various sections of the media to be behind UMD since its launch in May 2013 ahead of the July 31 polls.

The South African-based businessman was alleged to be the leader of the economic movement front and preferred presidential candidate prior to the last election. However, Mutumwa has consistently distanced himself from the party.

UMD, which integrated with the Renewal Team – a movement calling for leadership renewal in the main MDC – last month made headlines over its links with Mutumwa.

The party’s national organising secretary Ashirai Mtirikwi Mawere, who is now a full member of the Renewal Team, put to rest the two-year-long speculation, saying the UMD never made false claims that Mutumwa was a member of the party.

Presidential candidate

He said Mutumwa was one of the business figures selected by the party, formerly known as United Movement for Democracy Party, as its preferred presidential candidate towards the July 31 polls.

He said it was the party’s right to elect a candidate of their choice since its constitution provides for the need to nominate a presidential candidate towards national elections.

“I have never made false claims that Mutumwa Mawere was a member of UMD. He was not,” he categorically stated.

“Mawere was only identified by the party as its preferred presidential candidate ahead of the last election. It is also important to note that UMD’s constitution does not have a provision to have a president but has a provision for a presidential candidate who has to be elected or nominated towards an election.

“Mawere was someone the party identified as a figure who could lead its struggle for an economic revolution considering our founding principles, which are hinged on that aspect. Yes we engaged him but we never said he was a member of the party. This is why you saw him distancing himself from reports that he was our leader,” said Ashirai.

The charismatic politician pointed out that the media created the confusion since Mutumwa was not even a citizen of Zimbabwe when the party was launched. He lost his citizenship together with many other nationals by virtue of acquiring a foreign citizenship.

Mutumwa later regained his dual citizenship days before the July 31 polls after the Constitutional Court ordered Registrar -General Tobaiwa Mudede to issue him with a national registration certificate.

Not a citizen

“At that time Mutumwa was not a citizen so we waited till he got his citizenship. He got his citizenship the same week he got his ID, passport and registered as a voter. So when he got his papers it was less than 48 hours before the nomination closing but we still made strides to engage him,” said Ashirai.

He recalled hearing reports alleging that Mutumwa was to start a party in September 2012 when he was in Kuwait.

Ashirai indicated that he was approached by one businessman Leroy Murape and a Zanu (PF) member Malvern Chikutasha to assist them build the brand, “Mutumwa wants to run for presidency,” when he return in Zimbabwe after the death of his daughter on December 5, 2012.

“These guys came to me and said how we can create this brand Mutumwa Mawere wants to runs for President. I couldn’t phone him (Mutumwa) and ask “hey mudhara are you running for President.” It was neither here nor there.

“I saw that these guys were a bit immature in politics but I acknowledged their viewpoint on what Zimbabwe really needed and held several meeting with them at my place,” he said.

75 groups

Ashirai said he then discovered that there were 75 groups across the country moving with the campaign while only four knew each other.

There were five groups in Chitungwiza, two in Gweru, which later integrated into one, others in Masvingo, Zvishavane, Bindura, United Kingdom and Cyprus.

During familiarisation with the random campaign groups, Ashirai said others were moving around using Mutumwa’s name to solicit funds from unsuspecting donors.

He indicated that arrests were made following reports at Rhodes Ville Police Station.

“I united most of these campaign groups (excluding those that were arrested) through calls, texts and emails and then invited them to my residence to discuss what resources they needed and their campaign strategy. This was my constitutional right – and not that I was sent by Mutumwa,” he said.

In December, Ashirai was appointed national chairperson for constitutional development and tasked to spearhead the crafting of the party constitution.


UMD later came up with a constitution identified as the Natal Declaration where Ashirai was elected interim organising secretary before they registered with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

He immediately dissolved all the party structures and changed its name from UMDP to UMD following his appointment. He indicated that since then all the activities of the party have been funded from personal coffers and donations from some quarters of the Islamic community where he is a member.

“Using that constitution known as the Natal Declaration, they elected me the interim organising secretary. After my appointment I went on to dissolve every structure in the party under the powers vested in my post. I then changed the name of the party.

“I became the custodian of the party and have been supporting the operations of UMD from my personal coffers together with a few other donors from the Islam community and others. People thought it was Mutumwa who was bankrolling the operation but it’s not him,” he said.

Turning to the issue of his relationship with Mutumwa, considering that they share the same name, Ashirai was evasive. He stressed that people should pay attention to the politics of economic revolution rather than the politics of DNA.

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