Biti shot himself in the foot

Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti

Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti

Itayi Garande
Tendai Biti’s Facebook post on the eve of President Mugabe’s inauguration, after leaving the office of the Minister of Finance, is a sad reminder of the tenure of this man at the helm of Zimbabwe’s Treasury.

He bid farewell to an office he served as the “worst finance minister” in the history of Zimbabwe’s economy — an office once occupied by greats such as Cde Enos Nkala and Dr Benard Chidzero.

Ironically and interestingly Europeans (Euromoney, and so on) dubbed him the “best finance minister of Africa”. The ironies of life!

Outgoing Zanu-PF Justice Minister and once Acting Minister of Finance Cde Patrick Chinamasa branded Biti nothing more than a gatekeeper of Zanu-PF policies that were already under way in the finance ministry when he took over.

“He is a gatekeeper for our policies,” said Cde Chinamasa on a trip to the United Kingdom. “He is irrelevant in Zimbabwe’s political economy”.

On his Facebook profile, “Wananchi Biti” is fighting tooth and nail to remain relevant. He is no longer relevant.

He and his colleagues in the MDC-T thought they would beat Zanu-PF at the elections by making the economy dysfunctional. They were wrong. People saw that as proof of their incompetence.

With a whole host of other ministers who were dysfunctional and later booted out at the elections, “Wananchi Biti” is already in reminiscent mode, nostalgia setting in — the jet setting, the international trips and pomp and ceremony — all niceties afforded secretaries of state are no more.

The per diems and the foreign country hospitality are all gone. For them this was more important in government than delivering success and showing that they had better policies than Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF now has a chance to show what they can do without the prophets of doom, who thrive by scaremongering tactics telling people how they will suffer under Zanu-PF, as if they do not know what Zanu-PF can do.

After all the party has been in power for more than 30 years, schooled these “wananchis” and made them the “intellectuals” they claim to be.

Like the Chinese Communist Party, Zanu-PF has gone through changes. It has suffered setbacks, but has shown that it has capacity to bounce back; thanks to the MDC-T and its desire to see it fail.

The late Josiah Tongogara once remarked that “Ian Smith was a great teacher,” because each time he struck, Zanu would regroup and learn from his tactics. The MDC-T was a great teacher for Zanu-PF. It can never be complacent anymore, never taking anything for granted.

Biti’s legacy will be all the political, not economic, statements he made and all the efforts at bringing disaster to Zimbabwe so that the MDC-T can then shine.

He was part of the group that crafted the illegal sanctions, wanted to declare Zimbabwe a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), land reform reversed and indigenisation and empowerment stopped, among a host of policies.

He squandered a chance to shine as finance minister and thus sent himself into oblivion.
He also squandered the chance to outshine MDC-T party leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, by showing more mettle and competence, so he sank with him.

The Biti bravado and fearlessness we saw in 2008 is gone. It has been replaced by a timid, pensive-looking individual who does not know what hit him over the last five years.

Even Mr Tsvangirai has “replaced” him with a series of so-called legal and political advisers who have spelled more disaster for that party.

He has now resorted to Facebook battles. The ground battles have already been won by Zanu-PF. He is no longer commenting on real issues.

All his comments are general and are simply anti-Zanu-PF, not articulating what the MDC-T can do.
This has always been the source of the downfall of the MDC-T: criticising Zanu-PF, but offering nothing in return.

Biti will look back and see how ineffective a finance minister he has been.
He fought a fight, but a wrong one. He fought himself and his party.

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