The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Biti Sounding Too Good to Be True

opinion

In an interview published this week, MDC-T secretary general and Finance Minister Tendai Biti makes some statements that would naturally make one jump from their seats. This is because he makes remarks that you would not exactly expect to come from his MDC-T mouth in general and from his personal perspective as a fiery politician that many have taken him to be.

This ranges from the apparently seriousness of, "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again" to the gushing praises of President Mugabe's leadership and person. It goes to the point where Biti tells us that President Mugabe is "seductive: I'm sure every woman is in love with him."

A thorough reading of some of Biti's statements, though, would certainly convince anyone that he waded, for reasons perhaps best known to him, into the genus of what could be said to be too good to be true.

Consider the following, for example:

He says, "There are a number of things that compromise your country. For instance, this country will never be a colony of anyone again.

"It is not possible. Even those you might want to sell the country to, do not want it.

"The British do not want the burden of another colony again and certainly not the Americans. So we are now talking of smart imperialism, more subtle imperialism.

If you negotiate a contract, a bad deal for the country . . . you are selling your country.

"So, this is the post-colonial stage we are living in.

"There are many ways in which we are compromising our country. My experience in Government is that incompetence, lack of advice and technology; the bad deals that we are negotiating are part of compromising our country. Also not recognising what is in the best interest of our country also constitutes the bundle of what I call selling the country."

Earlier he had called for the unpacking of the "national question", which he opined had never - before the inclusive Government - been unpacked and "what it means to be a Zimbabwean" explored.

When one closely examines the context within which Biti says "this country will never be a colony of anyone again" and what constitutes the defence of Zimbabwe's sovereignty, then it is clear that he is being deceptive.

He is also unconvincing.

While he identifies Western imperialism - subtle post-colonial imperialism - he apparently wants the world to believe that Britain and America, which he names, correctly, are not the practitioners of the same.

He says the two countries do not need any more colonies. While that may be true to an extent, Biti does not locate the thrust of the two countries in creating client states and puppet regimes in the mould everyone understands will be an MDC-T government, under the present circumstances. These vassals will have to milk their countries on behalf of their master.

If this is what Biti is driving at when he talks of "smart imperialism, more subtle imperialism", then he is blithe and unconvincing because he brings this onerous and weighty issue to the plain plane of business deal-making.

One can think of Essar, or Zimplats - or even Anjin.

That's what he was routing for. It is also very simplistic that incompetence, lack of advice and technology constitutes selling the country out.

Is it not known that there are technocrats, lawyers and other professional and notable individuals who are deploying their talents to the service of foreigners?

It then becomes a matter of ideological grounding - and perhaps the national question he talks about - that determines whether one sells out or not.

Is it not a coincidence that Biti does not venture to give us some valuable aspects of what would constitute the "national question" which he wants unpacked?

Perhaps the answer lies in his mention of his "fighting the battles of my own generation", which he puts to "economic liberation", contrasting with nationalist and political liberation of yore. This too, presents a problem, especially when it is known that his and his party's policies amount to nothing more than tying Zimbabwe to the crumbling capitalist system identifiable with the likes of IMF and the World Bank.

It has been pointed out that his party is bereft of other "governing ideas" than the discredited Bretton Woods blueprints and that Biti himself has gone on to solicit the same cogent governing ideas elsewhere.

On the other hand, when he talks about bad deals that are tantamount to selling out, could it be possible that he was talking about the deals that his party, MDC-T, make with the British and the Americans?

Biti should admit that the devil pact his party made with the West, leading to the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe - is one such bad deal - which he now cannot reverse despite spending hours with the likes of Johnnie Carson and the EU. Part of that deal was to make Zanu-PF the scapegoat when the West imposed ruinous sanctions on the country.

Now that the people have suffered, are suffering, what will Biti do to reverse the bad deal he brokered?

That kind of reversal certainly does not revolve around making the country more vulnerable by trying to bust sanctions-busting measures, which Biti has been accused of - which he attributes for a search for "transparency". Which brings another paradox in the whole of Biti's thrust. It is rather astounding for Biti to tell the world that sanctions are "not serving the best interest of Zimbabwe", while he stands accused of plotting to entrench the very same sanctions by busting the godsend of diamonds which are capable of busting the sanctions.

Biti, therefore, does have much to prove - upon which history will have to judge him.

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