ZIMBABWE – MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was said to be so poorly he had to cop out of two high profile weekend rallies in Harare although aides rejected as ludicrous State media claims the former premier was felled by a “mental and maybe a nervous breakdown“.
Tsvangirai is in the throes of a bitter leadership struggle against MDC-T rivals who claim that he has become a specialist in electoral failure, leaving the party with no hope of winning any national vote with him at the helm while the situation on the domestic front is reportedly none too clement either.
Zimbabwe Media reports that it was informed that the former premier’s mounting woes would soon worsen with the addition of a significant financial bother.
Authorities were said to have instructed the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to demand repayment of a $1.5 million housing facility controversially extended to the MDC-T leader in 2009 after he joined government in a coalition administration with President Robert Mugabe.
“The former governor (of the RBZ Gideon Gono) left the loan uncollected. But the new governor is now under instructions to collect the outstanding loan from the ex-PM,” an official familiar with the developments said Tuesday night.
Controversy over the loan has dogged Tsvangirai and Gono, with the MDC-T leader accused of “double dipping” after taking up the facility and then moving into a plush Harare property acquired, upgraded and furnished for him by the government at a cost said to be around $4 million.
And despite exiting government after his crushing defeat to Mugabe in last July’s elections, Tsvangirai remains ensconced in the luxury home, in a development that was also cited by party rivals trying to force his ouster as MDC-T leader.
“How will you (Tsvangirai) answer the questions that we failed to care enough for our people and that we used our time in government for personal aggrandizement, personal wealth accumulation as symbolized by the current impasse on Highlands residence?” wrote Elton Mangoma in a letter which fanned the party’s leadership dispute.
An appeal for talks with Mugabe over his pension and the potential purchase of the property after the elections only raised even more questions with some in his own party wondering how Tsvangirai had come by the millions of dollars he would need to buy the house.
Party rivals have also wondered how “clear inducements” such as the luxury residence and the $1,5 million cash advance impacted the MDC-T leader in his dealings with Mugabe during the life of the coalition administration when he often stunned supporters by heaping praise on the Zanu PF leader with whom he regularly enjoyed a cuppa every Monday at State House.
The loan is also at the centre of corruption allegations levelled against Gono by former advisor, Munyaradzi Kereke, who accuses his ex-boss of looting $37,5 million and some 1,4 million Rand from the practically insolvent central bank.
The case is now set for trial in September after the parties reached an agreement in Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku’s chambers at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
Kereke, now a Member of Parliament, accuses Gono of irregularly advancing Tsvangirai the $1.5 million loan but the former governor insists the arrangement had the blessings of “higher authorities”.