Mugabe Renews Pressure On Tsvangirai To Fire Tendai Biti
Tendai Biti is sworn in as Minister of Finance by Mugabe in February this year in this photo. The smiles are long gone now, after Biti went after one of Mugabe's favourite persons, Gideon Gono. Now there is a concerted effort to get rid of him, with Mugabe launching a fresh campaign to first discredit Biti as someone who is working against the economic recovery that he is supposed to spearhead. Mugabe will now ask Tsvangirai (for the second time) to fire Tendai Biti as Minister of Finance and reassign him to another post in a reshuffle. The tactic is to distract the MDC relieving pressure that Mugabe now feels keenly on the "outstanding issues".
Harare, Zimbabwe, 28 November 2009
In a move seen and even acknowledged by many in ZANU PF as a diversion tactic, Robert "The Solution" Mugabe has now renewed pressure on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to fire Tendai Biti and has now started a campaign to "demonstrate that the Minister is working against the interests of the nation."
Last week, we had the Vice President (ZANU PF), Joice Mujuru's harsh words against Tendai Biti and this week, the pressure was upped in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, where Biti was openly accused by ZANU PF of "undermining economic recovery."
The charge came as Cabinet debated the issue of the IMF loan, which Mugabe and Gideon Gono had already decided on disbursing in the time that the MDC-Tsvangirai had "disengaged from ZANU PF."
It turns out that the decisions taken by Cabinet in the MDC absence from cabinet is the one that eventually carried the day. The announcement yesterday (Friday) that Tendai Biti, the Zimbabwe Finance Minister, had written to the IMF essentially endorsing the original disbursement plan from Gideon Gono was a result of that cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Mugabe, as I reported on the day of the first Cabinet meeting held after the MDC-T had returned to cabinet, insisted that the decisions taken in the absence of the MDC-T from cabinet held and that all they had to now do was implement them.
He argued that the decisions taken were national and not partisan and that the MDC-T had not been blocked by anybody from making input into the decision-making process. "You took yourself out of the process and we can not be blamed for your actions. The country must move forward," I am told Mugabe declared.
So, Tendai Biti on Wednesday found himself writing to the IMF endorsing ZANU PF decisions and policies. He had no choice in the matter, because cabinet decision are not by vote, but by consensus and Mugabe refused to revisit the consensus that had been reached in the absence of the MDC-T from cabinet.
ZANU PF are not yet done with Tendai Biti.
Knowing as they do that the 2009/2010 agricultural season is a disaster, Mugabe's party are already putting the blame on Biti.
Yesterday, three senior ZANU PF Cabinet ministers started leaking information said to be from within cabinet that Tendai Biti had "blocked" more farming aid from South Africa, trying to prove yet again that the Minister was actively working against economic recovery.
Documents being bandied about now purport to show that Biti ignored concerted efforts by the South African Ministry of Finance and a company called ASP Marketing to get him to sign a guarantee that would have seen Zimbabwe getting more thanUS$100 million in inputs from the regional economic giant.
The inputs would have been distributed through the Zimbabwe Grain Marketing Board. Seeing as GMB is generally considered to be inefficient and even utterly corrupt, it is understandable how Biti would have hesitated.
The GMB is still staffed with ZANU PF appointees and is a favourite stomping ground for ZANU PF politicians. The inputs, if they were to come through the GMB, would almost certainly have been looted with wild abandon.
Only last year, a court case vanished into thin air in which a senior ZANU PF Minister was implicated in taking maize from the GMB which no one could account for. The man who collected teh maize (corn) from the GMB was arraigned before the courts, but he simply invoked the name of the senior ZANU PF Minister as the person who had sent him to get the maize.
The court asked the Minister to come ni and explain himself. He ignored the court and the state was unable to enforce the summons against him. He walks free today still, while MDC-Tsvangirai MPS who also took maize from the GMB to give to their starving constituents are currently being prosecuted.
Against this background, it is understandable why Biti did not want to be stampeded into a decision on the input scheme from South Africa. There are no independent people at the GMB and the distribution of the inputs would have prejudiced Zimbabwean farmers if not examined properly.
None of this is explained. Instead, Mugabe and his party are now claiming that the behaviour of the Minister is proof that he is working against the interests of the country of Zimbabwe and sabotaging recovery!!
It is a hard charge for Biti to escape when the facts are looked at purely on face value.
Mugabe, it is understood, will now renew his request to Morgan Tsvangirai to reassign Tendai Biti from the Ministry of Finance at their Monday meeting.
Nothing is likely to come from it, of course.
But that is not the object of the exercise. The motive is to distract the MDCs, to bamboozle them and put even more issues in need of resolving before them to consider.
It is simply a matter of Mugabe buying time with delaying tactics while he cements his terror machine in the rural areas of Zimbabwe.