Zimbabwe broke and regime can’t wait for lockdown to end, Biti claims

MDC vice president and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee chairperson Tendai Biti

HARARE – Former finance minister Tendai Biti has claimed that the government is under pressure to end the coronavirus lockdown as it has run out of money.

The MDC deputy president, who appears to still have contacts within treasury and has made a number of accurate predictions on impending government policies, made the comments on microblogging site Twitter.

“The regime unwisely imposed a lockdown from March 30 without giving workers and business time to organise. Most businesses did not pay statutory obligations like PAYE, VAT, QPD and NSSA on March 31. Regime is now broke. Treasury is empty. They can’t wait to reopen,” he tweeted.

South Africa and Namibia recently extended their lockdowns in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus with the World Health Organisation warning countries against prematurely ending lockdowns before putting in place adequate measures to contain the virus.

Biti said the steady rise in coronavirus cases meant that Zimbabwe is unlikely to walk out of step with the rest of the region, and would announce an extension until at least early May.

“Given that it’s foreseeable that there will be a two-week lockdown extension, we urge the authorities to base all decisions on data, science, experts and the experience of other countries,” Biti said.

“We urge provision of adequate notice to allow workers to stock-up and businesses to adjust. We urge authorities to carry out extensive decentralised testing during the extension period.

“We urge compliance with High Court orders on protective personal equipment, isolation centres and the rule of law. We urge provision of safety nets particularly water, food and cash hand-outs. We urge transparency and full disclosure.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said his regime would make an announcement before Monday regarding a possible extension. The announcement could come as early as Saturday when he addresses the country on Independence Day. – zimlive