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Party of Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Probes Handling of UK Political Fund

Party Secretary General Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's finance minister, reportedly issued a statement saying he was suspending the UK executive over “shocking” financial irregularities

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party is sending a high-level team to Britain to probe alleged financial irregularities in the handling of funds raised for the 2008 elections.

Party Secretary General Tendai Biti, who is Zimbabwe's finance minister, said in a statement that he was suspending the executive of the United Kingdom branch over what he described as “shocking” financial irregularities.

Britain's Independent newspaper quoted MDC Treasurer General Roy Bennett as saying the MDC's overseas offices faced a "huge" corruption problem.

"They are bleeding us," Bennett said. "I would hate to know the amount of money that has been raised by Zimbabweans in exile purporting to represent the MDC. They have used the MDC name and pocketed the money."

Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the investigating team includes party National Chairman Lovemore Moyo, who is also House speaker, and Deputy Treasurer Elton Mangoma, currently economic planning minister.

Mr. Tsvangirai in recent weeks has gone to great lengths to underscore that his government will not tolerate corruption at any level of government.

MDC officials in Britain said Friday that the alleged financial irregularities had more to do with how funds were conveyed to party officials inside the country during a difficult period when the former opposition was under heavy pressure by the former government of President Robert Mugabe.

One MDC district chairman in the southeast of England said, "The people who were supposed to make the investigation should come here and do that investigation. There is no evidence right now. It is only an allegation."

Spokesman Makusha Mugabe of the English Midlands district of the MDC told VOA the investigation will show that no funds were misused.