THE trial of Bulawayo South MDC-T MP Edward Graham Cross on charges of communicating insults through the mobile phone to a party official Nkululeko Ndlovu opened at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Ndlovu told the court that Cross had been very racist in his conduct, but the party continues to accommodate him in the national council because he is one of the few white people who fundraise for the party.
Cross (73), who was represented by a lawyer Tim Cherry, pleaded not guilty to two counts of contravening Section 88 (b) and (c) of the Post and Telecommunications Services Act (making a telephone call and sending [an] offensive message) when he appeared before magistrate Gladmore Mushove.
Ndlovu, the suspended Bulawayo MDC-T provincial administrator, testified and was cross-examined before the case was remanded to tomorrow.
The court heard that on October 17, Cross insulted Ndlovu by sending a message which reads: “You are a thief and the sooner we fire you the better.”
Cross further sent another message saying blacks would never run the country properly.
Ndlovu told the court that Cross’ insults stemmed from $66 470 which he received from the party’s head office in Harare on behalf of the Bulawayo province to give to National Assembly candidates to pay polling agents for the July 31 elections.
“Cross has been very racist and maybe because he is one of the few white fundraisers of the party is the reason why he is being accommodated in such circumstances,” said Ndlovu.
The money was in two batches and each polling station was supposed to have three agents.
Ndlovu said Cross demanded payment for four agents per polling station and when he argued with him over that, Cross branded him insubordinate and framed allegations against him so that he would be fired.
“Cross, who is a member of the party’s national council, misrepresented himself to me that they had agreed at national level that four agents be paid per polling station. I must say he was bullying on the day. I had to submit to his demands and gave him money for four polling agents per polling station,” he said.
Ndlovu said after paying all the candidates, it was discovered that one candidate was not given that money and it was his duty to check who might have been paid more than required. He said it was established that other candidates received payment for three agents per station and only Cross had received extra payment.
“I then called him to find out about the issue and that is when he said, ‘I am talking crap’ which means waste from the bowls,” Ndlovu said. “He further said black people would not run this country properly before cutting his phone.”
Ndlovu handed his mobile phone bearing Cross’s messages on social network WhatsApp to the court as proof.
“He later sent a message to me saying if he had his way he would fire me and this is happening as I have been suspended after he framed false allegations that I misappropriated party funds,” he said.
“When I asked him what the word ‘crap’ was for, he did not show any remorse and further insulted me.”
Being cross-examined by Cherry, Ndlovu said in trying to cover his racial slurs and unsanctioned obtaining of extra funds, Cross framed allegations that over $5 000 went missing in his possession and reported to the party seeking his dismissal.
Ndlovu said among the allegations that Cross put against him was that he showed insubordination to him and those were the charges which a party hearing only centred on.