New Zimbabwe (London)

6 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Zimasset Worst Policy Since 1980, Biti

THE only way Zimbabwe can overcome its current economic and political crises is for all key players to come together and draft a new economic blue-print, former finance minister and opposition leader Tendai Biti has said.

Biti made the remarks Monday at a Sapes Trust Policy Dialogue held under the topic; "Reinforcing Zimbabwe's Process: A Dialogue to Reinforce Engagement".

The policy discussion was part of an international conference on Zimbabwe organised by the Sapes Trust and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and aimed helping the country's re-engagement process with the international community.

"ZimAsset (Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation) is a political statement. It is not an economic blueprint and does not offer any solution. Let the people of Zimbabwe write another economic document," Biti said.

He described the new economic blueprint as the worst since independence adding that if the country was to move both economically and politically it needed "genuine national dialogue".

"Our disease is that we do not listen to each other. The government thinks it knows it all and we have got a crisis. We never learn the small words, to listen and to apologise. I believe that we need to resolve the political crisis," the former finance minister said.

"The present government is unique in that it has wasted energy. The ruling party (Zanu PF) is weak and suffocating in internal fights, is turmoil and chocking under the weight of succession battles.

"The centre (in Zanu PF) is not holding and therefore they seek war in the periphery and unfortunately this civil war is affecting the capacity of the country to move forward. "The liberation movement has to carry an extra burden in demilitarising itself, in accepting that it has got a national responsibility, which goes beyond protecting the narrow interests of Zanu PF as a political party".

He added: "We have a dangerous situation of a very weak ruling party. In 1980, Zanu PF never graduated from a liberation movement into a modern democratic party."

Biti however, skirted the internecine leadership battles in his own the MDC-T party.

Two weeks ago, the former treasury chief convened a national council meeting that suspended party leader Morgan Tsvangirai plus six other top officials and re-instating then expelled deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma and three others.

Biti said Zimbabwe was one of the few countries in Africa where there is no difference between the army, Zanu PF and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), in apparent reference to the three institutions' alleged collaboration "rigging of elections" over the years.

He said the proposed national dialogue would deal with the crises of leadership, President Robert Mugabe's old age and suspected poor health, legitimacy, the contested elections, governance and moral decadence.

"At the centre of this is the crisis of leadership, lack of a leadership that gives hope that inspires but unfortunately the current leadership it is forcing people to cross crocodile infested Limpopo into South Africa," he said.

"We need a brand new narrative, respect, inclusivity as Zimbabweans. We need discourse, value systems; the culture of intolerance is so entrenched in the country.

"The world has moved on ... you need to compromise. The winner take all mentality is a thing of the past and it belongs to the museums. We are a long way from understanding each other. "We can have a new government tomorrow, we already have a new constitution but unless we deal with these fundamental value systems, I submit that we have a crisis."

Mugabe and Zanu PF should apologise to the people of Zimbabwe, Biti added.

"It is not sufficient to talk about politics without dealing with the economy. We need a functional economy," he said.

"The Zanu PF regime must accept failure, must apologise to the people and call for national dialogue inclusive of labour and business. The current government must engage with everyone including the international community."

The two-day conference which ended Tuesday is being run under the theme; "Zimbabwe Going Forward: Consolidating the Democratisation Process and Reinforcing Re-engagement with the Global Community."

Other panellists included; the European Union head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, Simba Makoni of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn, Zapu's Dumiso Dabengwa, Welshman Ncube of the smaller faction of the MDC and Australian Ambassador Matthew Neuhaus.

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