FORMER Finance minister Tendai Biti has warned President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his under-pressure government that the country is facing imminent implosion.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News On Sunday just before he was arrested on Friday, the tough-talking MDC Alliance vice president said it was clear something would have to give soon, in the light of Zimbabwe’s worsening political and economic crises.
This comes as life is getting harder by the day for long-suffering Zimbabweans, as the country’s economy continues to tank – with the recently re-introduced Zim dollar collapsing spectacularly.
Biti told the Daily News On Sunday that the rising repression in the country and the collapsing economy were fast driving Zimbabwe towards the precipice.
“We urgently need a political solution in this country because if we do not do that, as (Finance minister) Mthuli Ncube admits in his letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there is going to be an implosion.
“An implosion could mean another military coup, people going into the streets and being shot … but for crying out loud we need a political solution and a national transitional authority.
“The economy is arrested by a milieu of debilitating challenges, that are beyond Mnangagwa, Mthuli and the Zanu-PF government.
“At the centre of these challenges is the failure to resolve the deep political crisis in the country,” Biti told the Daily News On Sunday.
“The attack on the MDC Alliance, the capture of state institutions … the violent takeover of our head office Harvest House, are all things that … are a huge own goal to Mnangagwa.
“They make him lose trust and confidence amongst Zimbabweans, in the region and the world.
“He must know as someone who went to war that a regime can ban a political party, assassinate its leaders, but that only makes the flame of freedom and democracy grow and flourish.
“If that was not the case, there wouldn’t have been independence in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia,” Biti told the Daily News On Sunday further.
“All oppressed people would still not be free. But they became free the more the regimes of oppression acted illegally and unconstitutionally,” he added.
This comes as Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF have been accused of having a hand in the MDC’s ugly factional wars which plumped to new lows last week after the party’s interim leader, Thokozani Khupe, seized the hugely symbolic
Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House in Harare from her rival Nelson Chamisa.
On Friday, Biti was arrested together with his co-VP Lynette Karenyi-Kore and other party officials when they tried to enter the building, which was formerly known as Harvest House.
Khupe and Chamisa have been involved in a fierce tussle for control of the country’s largest opposition party ever since it’s much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, died from colon cancer in February 2018.
The fights took a turn for the worse after the Supreme Court upheld an earlier High Court ruling in March, which had nullified Chamisa’s hotly-disputed ascendancy to the helm of the MDC following Tsvangirai’s death.
In his interview with the Daily News On Sunday on Friday, Biti said Mnangagwa’s biggest problem was that he and his government had now lost the confidence and trust of ordinary Zimbabweans.
“That is Mnangagwa’s problem … he doesn’t understand that you need consensus, agreement, a social contract and … an understanding that governing a country is voluntary surrender of authority by citizens.
“If citizens don’t voluntarily surrender their authority and permission to you through a social contract, you can’t govern the country.
“No matter how many army tanks you have, no matter how many guns you have. That, regrettably, is Mnangagwa’s problem,” Biti let rip at the 77-year-old Zanu-PF leader.
Turning to the country’s deepening economic problems, the Harare East legislator said Zimbabwe was suffering from toxic policies such as Ncube’s re-introduction of the Zim dollar, when conditions were not yet right for its return.
“As I have argued and stated for donkey years, Zimbabwe never had conditions for the restoration of its own domestic currency.
“Therefore, the process of de-dollarisation was a total disaster which has not worked and will not work.
“Now you cannot introduce a currency when no one trusts you … that is the problem with Mnangagwa and Ncube.
No one trusts them. This economy doesn’t trust them,” Biti told the Daily News On Sunday.
“Secondly, you cannot introduce a currency when you are not producing, because at the end of the day a currency is a measure of your productive capacity measured against the productive capacity of other countries.
“So, at the end of the day your currency becomes the relationship between your exports and imports.
“What needs to be done is that the government must reintroduce, as a matter of urgency, the regime of multiple currencies,” Biti added.
“The US dollar must come back and the rand must come back.
“Secondly, the government must remove all restrictions on export earnings. In other words, your export surrender requirements must be scrapped.
“So, two issues and measures around the fungibility of certain shares – in particular the Old Mutual shares – must be allowed to be fungible,” Biti further told the Daily News On Sunday.
“So, bring back the US dollar and allow the market to operate. Third, all wages and salaries by the government must be immediately paid in US dollars.
“Then retailers and everyone must levy their charges in US dollars. Also allow everyone to import fuel.
“Fuel right now is the monopoly of a few. How does one country become subjected to a monopoly?” Biti queried further.
“So, allow everyone to bring fuel and let those who have brought fuel charge in US dollars because people will now be paid in US dollars.
“The same formula must apply to goods in the shops, and once you do that, you will see prices plunging.
“You will kill two birds with one stone. You will also deal with the problem of runaway inflation,” Biti added.
“When you attend to those structural reforms, it means that you also restore relations with London, the European Union, Washington, Beijing and New Delhi.
“This also means that you can make an application to join the Rand Monetary Union because the long term future of our currency in Zimbabwe depends on us integrating into the region and joining the Rand Union, or alternatively pushing Sadc so that we have both a free trade area and a monetary union,” he said further.
Despite showing early signs of efforts to turn around the economy, which had suffered from years of corruption and mismanagement under the disastrous rule of the late former president Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa and his lieutenants are now finding the going tough.
Ordinary Zimbabweans have been hit the hardest by the Zim dollar collapse, which has triggered steep price increases of basic consumer goods.
In addition, the country is once again experiencing acute fuel shortages despite the commodity being in abundant supply worldwide.
In 2009, Zimbabwe binned its then worthless dollar and introduced a multiple currency system which was anchored by the US dollar.
Despite this system having served the country well for more than a decade, Ncube rattled the markets when he ill-advisedly ended the local use of the US dollar and other currencies in June last year.
He directed that the Zim dollar be the sole legal tender in the country without addressing the root causes of its crash and subsequent decimation by hyperinflation in the run-up to the consummation of the 2009 government of national unity.