Former Finance Minister and lawyer Mr Tendai Biti should explain his source of wealth that enabled him to acquire properties in Harare’s affluent suburbs and top of the range vehicles, as exposed in the divorce he is going through in the courts, analysts have said. Mr Biti’s properties were exposed in divorce papers filed by his wife Mrs Charity Biti (nee Maguwah) recently at the High Court citing loss of affection and love for each other.
Analysts that spoke to The Herald yesterday said the properties listed in the court papers raised questions on how Mr Biti had acquired them, given his previous utterances against extreme wealth accumulation. The properties listed by Mrs Biti in the divorce papers that she wants shared between themselves include:
(a) an immovable property at Stand Number 14 Coltman Road, Mount Pleasant in Harare measuring 4 048 square metres
(b) a 6 831 square metre plot in Umwinsdale.
(c) Number 2 Poland Way, Glen Lorne, Harare (4 000 square metres),
(d) Number 7 Bernard Avenue, Chisipite (4 114 square metres),
(e) Number 26 Rowland Square, Milton Park (2 762 square metres),
(f) Tsoko Lodge, Number 1 Shato Close, Juliasdale.
The vehicles include a black Mercedes-Benz S350 (ADY 5606), a Toyota Land=Cruiser (ADI 2870), a white Ford Ranger (ADL 1761), Mercedes-Benz E300 (ADA 7481) and a Mercedes-Benz E280 (ACY 5148).
Tanzania-based political analyst Mr Tafadzwa Mugwadi said Mr Biti was similar to former Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, whose vast properties across the country were exposed by his former wife Marian Chombo during divorce proceedings. “Tendai Biti is an Ignatius Chombo incarnate in the opposition ranks, whose penchant for primitive accumulation of wealth runs parallel to the working class people that the MDCs purport to represent,” he said.
“It is clear that his properties defines his understanding of society as one of the haves and the have-nots, with him being the petit bourgeoisie, whose wealth is totally untraceable in a just society. I only hope he did not voraciously acquire those properties as a Minister of Finance. He has joined the land barons’ league.”
Another analyst said, Mr Goodwine Mureriwa, said Mr Biti could have abused his position when he was in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC to loot property. “What is important to note is that most of the corruption in the urban areas were done through the MDC-T led councils and a number of top officials from that party also benefited,” he said.
“It is clear there was collaboration between the council officials and some of these MDC officials, so it is in the nation’s interest to know if he did not abuse the various portfolios he has held to acquire those properties.” Mr Mureriwa said there was rampant abuse of donor funding within the opposition ranks, with funds running into billions being looted since 2000.
A Harare lawyer who declined to be named for professional reasons said Mr Biti’s position had been untenable because of previous stance against wealth accumulation. “In the past, he has blasted Zanu-PF leaders for what he termed ‘primitive accumulation of wealth’, but the properties listed by his wife do not show the position he has spoken against in the past,” the lawyer said. “He will have to explain how he acquired those properties if people are not to speculate on its origins.”