FORMER Finance Minister and MDC Alliance co-principal Tendai Biti says President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s barren 100 days in office have exposed the “Esigodini butcher” for being full of promises but lean on delivery.
Biti was speaking in an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe following the new leader’s much vaunted first hundred days at the helm of the country.
Evidently feeling the scrutiny towards his fledgling regime and anticipating the criticism that lay ahead, Mnangagwa said in a video posted on his Facebook page on Sunday that 100 days was too little a time-frame for real change in an economy that had been mismanaged for years.
“We must of course be realistic and recognise that it takes more than 100 days to recover an economy. Real change takes time,” he said. “I know there are those among you who are frustrated at the pace of change and I understand that.”
Mnangagwa also took the opportunity to pat himself in the back for few achievements he made in passing a 2018 budget full of austerity towards top level spending, scaling back on an indigenisation law that scared away foreign investment while also facilitating greater use of mobile money in an economy affected by a severe liquidity crunch.
Some political observers have been quick to sympathise with Mnangagwa in his bid to try and move mountains in a short space of time.
But Biti was not so lenient with his rival, describing Mnangagwa’s first three months as a disaster.
“It’s been a disaster,” he said. “There has been nothing. It’s been a period of missed opportunities. It’s been a period of lies; nothing but lies, zero performance!
“Hundred days is a lot of time. He could easily have aligned laws with the new constitution, come up with amendments to the Electoral Act, forced a commission of enquiry into diamonds (theft), laid out his own vision, come up with electoral reform, dealt with the issue of macroeconomic stability by simply saying we live within our means.
“As of now, he is in limbo. People have found him out. The emperor has no clothes; it’s a damp squib.”
As Finance Minister in the now defunct GNU between 2009 and 2013, Biti said he managed to achieve a lot under the leadership of his late boss and then Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over the same period of a hundred days.
“In a hundred days, we had abandoned the Zim-dollar, coupons that civil servants were using, reopened the stock exchange, launched STERP (Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme) which was a key macro stability factor,” he said.
“I had revised the budget from US$1,7 billion to $US1 billion. We had reduced inflation from 500 billion percent to minus 7 percent. Supermarkets were full of food.
“Part of his (Mnangagwa) problem is that he didn’t have a work plan. He had a slogan.
“What he is learning now is that people don’t eat slogans. So, the man is being found out for what he truly is.
“The butcher of Esigodini can’t run this country,” Biti said of the one-time security minister who is accused playing a prominent role in the massacre of an estimated 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands soon after independence.
– New Zimbabwe