- Published on 04 October 2014
- Written by New Zim
In a country where nearly everyone is a prophet, Zimbabwe's ex-finance minister and MDC Renewal leader, Tendai Biti, has 'prophesied' that Zimbabwe is heading towards a virtual economic lockdown similar to the 2008 one.
Biti made the chilling prediction while addressing a Southern African Political and Economic Series (SAPES) discussion on Thursday. He said Zimbabwe needed dialogue sooner rather than later to unlock the economic malaise.
"Zimbabwe can only come out of its current disastrous economic state by having a national dialogue, which will ensure that a new people-centred economic blueprint is drafted. The economy is in a crisis and the solution is that there is need for a national dialogue. I am not pitching for the return of the inclusive government but let's find some convergence and write a proper economic document not the ZimAsset political document," he said.
ZimAsset is a policy document crafted by President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party in the run-up to last year's elections.
Zanu PF said under the programme the government would reverse Zimbabwe's economic slide and create 2.2 million jobs for the thousands of unemployed people.
But a year after the election, Zimbabwe is in a free-fall with thousands of companies being forced to shut down. The banking sector is also in crisis as demonstrated by a fresh liquidity crunch.
The government last month said recent deals it signed with China and Russia would help breathe life into the comatose economy.
Biti however poked holes into the much-vaunted mega-deals arguing the Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed by Mugabe and his government will not help turn the country's economy around because they "are not bankable".
"These shouts by Zanu PF of mega deals from China are mega lies as the MoUs are not bankable. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa brought a suitcase full of MoUs but they are useless. We need a new narrative in this country. We need broad-based empowerment that is inclusive as the current one is exclusive" Biti said.
Biti added that the current infighting in Zanu PF was further affecting the country's economic recovery.
Zanu PF is battling serious internal divisions. Two rival factions led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa are at each other's throats as they fight to position themselves for a strike at the country's top job.
The differences have of late burst into open warfare as the party heads towards a key elective congress in December.
Critics say the infighting has stalled efforts to deal with challenges on the economic front as leaders battle to outdo each in the succession fight.
"We are already in the middle of an economic crisis and the government is very weak at the moment, lacerated by infighting in Zanu PF.
"There is no revenue flowing in so we are a State that is in a crisis but the biggest crisis is the economy that is caused by leadership infighting in Zanu PF," Biti said to applause.
The Harare East lawmaker said he feared a return to the near implosion of 2008 given "Zanu PF's predatory response to the current socio-economic crisis".
Biti's assertions were supported by economist and labour expert Godfrey Kanyenze.
"We have an abnormality of a country that is limping on one leg and takes pride in limping ahead in that state," he said.
"There is no coherence in the country and reengagement is critical. What is happening in Zanu PF does not bode well for economic development. There is need for social cohesion," Kanyenze said.