Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe Minister of Finance, delivering the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme in Harare today
Tendai Biti launched the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme in Harare today together with Robert Mugabe and Acting Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe.
For those present at the ceremony, it was sad to miss Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is recuperating in South Africa and is only expected back in Harare next week. What we got today is really his big Action Plan for Zimbabwe, and welcome news to the ears of the weary citizens of Zimbabwe.
But what struck me was Tendai Biti's admission that there are indeed sanctions on Zimbabwe. Previously, the MDC and its supporters have always maintained that these are only "targeted sanctions, travel bans and the like, just a harmless bit of fun at ZANU PF's expense."
Biti told the gathering today, " STERP recognises that apart from targeted travel bans, measures have been taken against Zimbabwe, denying the country the right to access credit facilities from international financial institutions,suspending Zimbabwe's Voting Rights, as well as denying Zimbabwean companies access to lines of credit."
It gets worse.
"In this regard, discussions have already started with the European Union, European Commission, World Bank, IMF, and the AfDB with the objective of removing the above sanctions and measures in compliance with Article 4.6 (c) of the GPA. As far as the USA is concerned, it is imperative that the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) be repealed and representations and consultations have already begun in this respect."
It is an extremely interesting development indeed.
There were other points to take special note of in this STERP thing.
Such as, for instance, the fact that the Programme is said by Biti to run from March to December 2009. The MDC are locking themselves into the corridors of power, that's what this means. This government, if you recall, is supposed to be reviewed by SADC at the end of six months, which is in about four months' time.
Given the continued flouting of the Agreement by ZANU PF, the selective application of the law, especially, as well as the continued presence of two relics from the past whom the MDC has vowed to get rid of: the Attorney General and the Governor of The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, one would think there was no reason for the MDC to be optimistic about the future of this GNU creature.
What do they intend to do at the review, if not trot out the various ways and means in which Mugabe has sought to frustrate the opposition party? Will they say, "Oh everything is just fine, thank you for asking. In fact, we now think good old Bob is not such a bad chap after all. He's like a father to us, you know. No, we are doing ok"?
What will people who remain in jail or on trial on spurious charges think of this approach? Can they expect that they will remain harassed until the GNU ends in 2 or (as is now being discussed in government) 5 years years time?
Other than that, the STERP document is nothing more than a compilation of the nation's misery, ending in Biti and Mugabe bringing out the begging bowl and looking around to see if anyone feels sorry enough for us now.
That is all there is to it, really. Like I said in my article below this one, the Obama government reacted rather swiftly, answering the call to lift sanctions (Biti specifically called for ZIDERA, the American Act on Zimbabwe, to be repealed by the US Congress) by saying they will do no such thing.
Those insults to be traded between the MDC and America are not too far off. Biti is a livewire and the frustration, already showing will lead to an outburst one of these days. If Mutambara joins in, as well he might, then God help us all.