Former Finance minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti has sensationally claimed that President Robert Mugabe has this year alone blown almost $20 million on foreign trips.
Biti, who was the Finance minister during the inclusive government era from 2009 to 2013 and clashed on several occasions with Mugabe over constant foreign travels, told journalists at his Harare offices yesterday, that Zanu PF has now run out of ideas to manage the country.
As the Finance minister Biti used to bankroll Mugabe’s foreign trips and has an inkling on the expenditure on foreign trips.
He said the country is going through a liquidity crunch spawned by government’s actions of raiding RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) balances at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“The government is raiding these accounts to raise cash so as to support their bloated expenditures such as endless foreign trips for the president and hotel bills for (Vice President) Phelekezela Mphoko.
Mphoko has been staying in a hotel since he was appointed vice president in 2014 and even though there has been calls from both the opposition in the governing party for him to leave the lap of luxury in a presidential suite he has been adamant in his demands for accommodation fit for the royalty.
His lavish lifestyle has provoked the anger of many ordinary Zimbabweans, especially as the majority are trapped in the unforgiving jaws of hunger.
“This is against the fact that Mugabe has so far spent almost $20 million on foreign trips, including trips to obscure events such as the one in India,” Biti said
The former MDC secretary-general said Zimbabwe is grinding to a halt as the Zanu PF led government has no desire of turning things around.
“In short, they are as carefree and indifferent as they are clueless,” he said, adding that the country needs structural reforms if it is to move forward.
He said the Zanu PF government failed to meet its 2013 election promise of creating over two million jobs, as several companies have since closed down instead.
Biti also said the Indigenisation policy, which requires foreign-owned firms to cede 51 percent of their shares to locals, must be repealed, if the country is to lure any investors and get foreign direct investment.
“There is massive shrinkage of the economy since 2013 with the growth rate being minus 1,8 percent in 2015 and that of 2016 being minus 3,5 percent. The outlook period of 2016/2018 will be in the red. Land invasions are continuing, the Indigenisation Act has not been repealed and continues to scare investors and the civil service is still infested with thousands of ghost workers,” he said, adding that Zimbabwe is in a circle of economic recession.
“…the government has started the crime of printing money through the issuance of Treasury bills that are now clogging the market. This government has been criminally issuing Treasury bills with total domestic debt now standing at $6 billion. The continued reliance on toxic Treasury bills is a major factor contributing to the current liquidity crisis,” he said.
Biti said, Zimbabwe must walk the talk on policy reforms and increase transparency.
He however said the only way to deal with Zanu PF was for opposition political parties to come together and work as a united force.
He also criticised government’s plan to regulate the social media, claiming this was a fascist plot and the hallmark of desperation from a country that already has a battered international image.
“Zimbabwe is burning and we are in trouble. Mugabe and his corrupt cronies lack the competence and the commitment to provide solutions to our national challenges which they in any case are guilty of creating,” Biti said. Daily News