Tendai Biti, MDCs minister of Finance, chats with the man he said last week is now "like a father" to the MDC, President Robert Mugabe. This was at the unveiling of the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme (STERP) earlier today. Mugabe and Biti publicly begged for US$5 billion. But in the background, the MDC have kicked into action a risky strategy to get rid of one man, Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank. Read on.
So determined are the MDC to get rid of Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank Governor, that they have now embarked on a risky strategy to force Mugabe's hand.
So even as they smiled at each other during the launch of the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme today, the daggers are secretly drawn.
Tendai Biti says the country is broke, totally broke. There is no money at the Reserve Bank to meet even the most rudimentary needs of government, let alone teachers' US$100 "salaries" (which the teachers want reviewed anyway).
But teachers started receiving the March US$100 salary in their bank accounts today. Question mark right there.
As for where the money came from, I expect anyone who is so stupid as to ask will get the same response from Biti as he gave last month: "Takango kiya-kiya." Meaning, "We made a plan."
In fact, the MDC wants to use the reluctance by the world to come to the rescue of Zimbabwe to get rid of Gono. They are telling ZANU PF that as long as Gono remains Governor, then those with the money say they are unwilling to give it to Zimbabwe.
Biti and Tsvangirai are pursuing this policy doggedly. Hence the by-now routine warnings that the coffers are empty before money is found the very next day for foreign currency salaries or new vehicles and new leather furniture for ministerial offices.
An MDC official claims, "Ndisu tiri kuti 'imbomirai' kuvanhu vane mari, Gono ari kufanirwa kuenda." - "We are the oes telling the donors to hold off giving us anything, Gono must go."
The idea is to see who will give in first. Mugabe or Tsvangirai, MDC or ZANU PF. Squeeze the money side, is the current MDC reasoning, and Mugabe will have to give in at some point.
"We will tell him, look Old Man," says the rather optimistic MDC official I spoke to, "you can't let a whole country collapse just because of Gono. Find something else for him to do. Make him an ambassador or whatever, but keeping him means no money coming into Zimbabwe."
I say "optimistic" because the reality of this game may turn out different to what the MDC think. Has it occurred to them that perhaps Mugabe WANTS them to collapse. Have they thought that the old man is wishing that the whole thing would collapse on the MDC's watch?
He would then simply campaign by telling people that the MDC was given a chance to deliver and they failed. They were in charge of policy and policy formulation and they could not come up with the said policies to get Zimbabwe out of the doldrums.
I do not think that, no matter what pressure they put Mugabe under, he will give in and get rid of Gono. He has nothing to gain from doing so and everything to lose. Books will have to be audited, and that is one whole big can of worms...
Back when all this started, Mugabe told his moribund Politburo that letting an MDC minister of Finance appoint a Governor at the RBZ would be tantamount to "Kuisa gonzo mudura." Meaning "throwing a rat into the granary."
If you were to bet, which outcome would you back: Mugabe giving in and firing Gono or the MDC having to withdraw from that fight and living with Gono?
Oh, by the way, as for this joke called STERP, which Mugabe and Biti announced today, the American responded VERY swiftly. The State Department issued a statement saying, "this government has to show more before we will consider removing any targeted sanctions or for putting together an aid package."
One of the concerns from America has to do with the gluttony and greed exhibited by this government. So, just after Mugabe gave his plea earlier today ("Friends of Zimbabwe, please help us," were his words), America gave him their answer.