By A Correspondent- Economist and former opposition legislator Eddie Cross has claimed that former First Lady Grace Mugabe bankrolled opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s 2018 presidential bid.
During the 2018 harmonised elections, Chamisa contested under the MDC Alliance ticket, but now leads the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, an outfit he created in January last year after being elbowed out of MDC Alliance by Douglas Mwonzora.
The 2018 elections were held after the removal from power of the late former President Robert Mugabe by President Emmerson Mnangagwa through a military-assisted coup.
Addressing a Chief Executive Officers Roundtable meeting in Harare last week, Cross, who is also former MDC opposition legislator (Bulawayo South) said in 2018 Mnangagwa faced opposition from everybody.
“Mrs Mugabe financed Chamisa so that he defeats Emmerson and eventually Emmerson abandoned everything and concentrated on winning the elections, and thank God he did because if he hadn’t spent the next four or five months fighting the elections, he could have lost the election. As it is, he won it by 300 000 votes, and when he won that election, he then sorted the problems inside his government — all 20 ministers were Emmerson’s people,” Cross said.
But CCC deputy spokesperson Gift “Ostallos” Siziba said: “Eddie is trying by all means to be more Zanu than Zanu PF people themselves. He is a delusional man who will do anything to get a seat in the gravy train.”
Added Cross: “It was all in that meeting with Members of Parliament (to impeach Mugabe in 2017) and in 15 minutes we couldn’t get out of the hotel. There were a quarter of a million people outside that hotel. I couldn’t push the door to find my way out. It was the response of the people that legitimised the change of government. I tried to go to the rally in Highfields that day, but we could not get within three miles, it was just packed with millions of people.
Sadc [Southern African Development Community] observers came and flew around in a helicopter and they saw what was going on the ground and went back to the State House and they said to Mugabe, it’s over, the people have spoken and it was the people’s response to the coup which legitimised the change of government.”
Cross said the country incurred a huge deficit during Mugabe’s reign, and money was printed to cover the deficit.
He said Zimbabwe’s fiscal deficit was 40% of the budget which prompted Mugabe’s administration to continue printing money.
Cross said after winning the 2013 elections against MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the end of the four-year inclusive government, Mugabe re-assumed full control of government and accrued a debilitating fiscal deficit.
“By 2017, the fiscal deficit was 40% of the budget, how do you run a country like that? We had US$23 million in our bank accounts which we called United States dollars but it wasn’t United States dollars. It was there because Mugabe was printing money to cover the deficit. We were headed for the rocks again and that was when Mnangagwa decided the change of government was necessary, and on the 17th of November, the transition took place. I was actually still in Parliament. I sat at the Harare International Conference Centre waiting to impeach the old man, and then in walked a messenger with Mugabe’s letter of resignation,” Cross said.