Zimbabwe Is in Transition: Biti tells Business sector.(09-02-07)


POLITICAL transition has already begun in Zimbabwe now that there was consensus among all stakeholders, including senior officials in Zanu PF, that Mugabe’s government has dismally failed and the collapse of the regime is inevitable, MDC secretary-general Hon Tendai Biti said on Thursday.

Addressing a packed room of businesspersons at a luncheon in Harare, the MDC secretary-general chronicled the Zimbabwean economic and political crisis, adding that the vicious civil war to succeed Mugabe and the consensus among all democratic forces that the government should be confronted meant that the collapse of the status quo was inevitable. At 83, Mugabe is clearly old and the political atmosphere is already that of a country in transition, Biti said. He told the delegates that the transition to a new Zimbabwe had already begun and the MDC had started to polish up its economic recovery document and other policies for ready implementation when the party forms the next government following free and fair elections under a new, people-driven Constitution.

Hon Biti, the main speaker at the Business luncheon at the Rainbow Towers in Harare, had been asked to give the MDC perspective of the monetary policy statement presented by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono a fortnight ago.

Hon Biti told the businesspeople that while Gono was right in arguing that he could not address the country’s economic crisis without holistic measures to address the economic fundamentals affecting the economy, he was wrong in presenting himself to hard-pressed Zimbabweans time and again pretending to offer solutions that had dismally failed.

The MDC secretary-general said while Gono had pointed out the distortions in the economy and blamed several parastatals and unnamed individuals for the same, he had deliberately chosen not to name the RBZ as another vehicle for Zanu PF looting where senior government officials accessed foreign currency at concessionary rates and traded it on the black market. He said the value of the Zimbabwe dollar, which the governor refused to devalue, was another distortion which he had the power to address. The MDC secretary-general said since his maiden monetary policy statement of December 2003, the governor had repeatedly failed to meet targets. He added that the social contract proposed by the governor would not work because there was deep mistrust between the partners, adding that workers would not agree to a wage freeze when they lived their lives in a parallel economy where price controls do not work. Zimbabwe, Hon Biti, had become a privatised, militarised state run by securocrats and ruling party thugs whose sole aim was personal aggrandisement.

Hon Biti said it would be an onerous task to put Zimbabwe’s economic on the rails. He revealed shocking statistics of decline: a negative economic growth rate, 6 percent of the 10 percent of the workers in formal employment earn far below the breadline salary, 4 000 people dying every week of HIV/Aids, bringing a cumulative annual death rate of more than those who perished during the war of liberation, a life expectancy of 34 years, down from 70 years in 1980 and an industrial capacity of between 15 and 30 percent. He said the MDC’s roadmap, which included national consensus on a new Constitution, free and fair elections under international supervision and reconstruction and stabilisation in a post-transitional era, was the only way to bring Zimbabwe’s economy back on the rails.

Zimbabwe, Hon Biti said, had a worse economy than that of Somalia which has had no leader since 1991. Biti had his audience in stitches when he said there was more electricity available in war-torn Mogadishu than in Harare where an acute foreign currency crunch has made sure everything has virtually collapsed. Twenty years ago, Zimbabwe was the jewel of the region but now had an economy which accounted for less than 3 percent of the regional GDP.

Biti said real savings were now less than two percent of Gross Domestic product while pensioners were struggling to survive. He said the tragedy of the Zimbabwean crisis was that it had mutated from a stage where there were criminals in the State to stage where the State itself had become criminal. The State, Hon Biti said, was the biggest player on the parallel market while the governor had prinited over $400 million and expended it without Parliamentary approval as required by law. He said it was frightening for the nation than the State, which had the responsibility of making sure that justice prevails in the nation, was itself the star player in extra-legal activities.

Department of Information and Publicity

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