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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Tsvangirai Says Lack of Funding Won't Derail Party Congress

Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addressing journalists in Harare Wednesday, September 18, 2013. - VOA

Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is meeting Friday for its crucial elective congress in the capital Harare.

The congress will be held between October 31 and the November 1, 2014, at the City Sports Centre in Harare.

MDC Split

The congress comes after a group disenchanted with Tsvangirai's leadership led by former secretary general Tendai Biti left the party after he refused to resign while financial support from traditional supporters has dried up.

The congress was supposed to be held in 2016 which could have meant more time to prepare but divisions that saw the departure of Biti and several other senior officials forced the party to bring the gathering forward.

Though the congress is only a few days away, Tsvangirai says the party is still grappling to raise money to accommodate the over 7,000 delegates expected at the congress. But he said the party will make do with the resources that it has at the momnt.

The party has appealed to supporters and well-wishers to contribute the $1,5 million necessary to fund it.

Political Finance Act

Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said, “Failure by treasury to avail $3 million owed to the party under the Political Parties (Finance) Act will not stop the MDC from holding the congress,”

Under Zimbabwe’s Political Parties (Finance) Act, the state is obliged to fund political parties with a 5% threshold of the vote according to the Electoral Act 2:13. Of the country’s 25 registered political parties, only Zanu -PF and the MDC qualify for state funding.

The act does not allow political parties to get funding from foreign countries, although there is room for them to receive donations from private sources.

Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe and chairman Lovemore Moyo will not be contested as they were nominated unopposed.

Tsvangirai told VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party is geared for the congress.

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The MDC claims that, “as an idea whose time was ripe, was endorsed on 26 February 1999 by over 700 men and women from all walks of life who converged at the women’s bureau in Hillside, Harare, for two days.”

The gathering set up various committees and sub committees to examine a whole gamut of Zimbabwean issues, only to resolve that the only way out was the need to challenge Zanu-PF politically.

During this convention key resolutions were adopted and the implementation of these have continued guide the MDC in quest to address a myriad of issues and imbalances created by Zanu-PF.

The working people’s convention then gave birth to a political movement, the MDC, seven months later at Rufaro Stadium in Harare.