Biti Flexes His Muscles Again - Stops Gono And Mugabe Dead In Their Tracks
This is the true President of The Republic of Zimbabwe now - Tendai Biti, the Finance Minister, at least as far as the economy and the lives of Zimbabweans are concerned. He has just blocked another US$300 million from Afreximbank negotiated by Gideon Gono for Zimbabwe and there is nothing Mugabe, Gono or anyone else in ZANU PF can do about it. AS I have said before, it just goes to show that this is now the most powerful MDC minister in the government, more powerful than even Prime Minister Tsvangirai himself. MDC supporters and ordinary in Zimbabwe are absolutely in awe of him for standing up to Mugabe and Gono, who previously held sway over the country between the two of them
Harare, Zimbabwe, 05 October 2009
Gideon Gono and ZANU PF are fretting today because they say Tendai Biti has blocked the release of US$300 million from Afreximbank.
At issue is the debt Zimbabwe already has with that Bank, which is standing at US$56 million dollars.
Gideon Gono, who had been negotiating with Afreximbank over this loan, was subsequently told to mind his own business by Tendai Biti and he duly wrote to the bank to tell that the matter was now being handled by the Minister of Finance.
Biti was approached by the bank in order for the repayment options to be looked at, including the proposal from Gono for the $56 million to be paid out of the new allocation of US$300 million.
Last week on Thursday, however, Afreximbank wrote to Gideon Gono attaching a letter from Tendai Biti which stated that the US$56 million was incurred by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and therefore, Afreximbank should look to the Reserve Bank for their money and not to the government of Zimbabwe.
In the absence of a "credible" plan to repay the outstanding loan, says the Bank, they have no option but to refuse to disburse the US$300 million that they had voted for Zimbabwe.
A few interesting facts come out of this and serve to confirm by analysis here last week that Tendai Biti is now by far the most powerful MDC figure in the cabinet, more powerful than even Prime Minister Tsvangirai.
It appears there is nothing Mugabe and ZANU PF can do to Biti or about Biti, who is going about using his position as Minister of Finance to make sure that the Inclusive Government does not pay for debts incurred by the previous, quasi-operations of the Reserve Bank and even those incurred by the previous government of Zimbabwe itself.
Mugabe and Gono can only watch helplessly. They are stumped and at a loss as to how to handle this new powerful figure in their midst, whom they can not buy off with farms or wealth.
It is now certain that there will be no lines of credit coming Zimbabwe's way unless these can be used solely at the discretion of the Minister of Finance and the MDC. Having burnt all his bridges, even the African banks such as Afreximbank now also seem to trust Tendai Biti's word than they do the words of Mugabe or Gono.
I am certain that the holding of the purse-strings is the biggest trump card the MDC will hold in any future election. No money whose origin can not be categorically attributed to the MDC in teh Inclusive Government is being blocked and there is nothing Mugabe and Gono can do about it.
Mugabe, Gono and ZANU PF are now, in terms of the finances of the country, totally and utterly powerless.