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Minister Biti Breaks Ranks With MDC-T
Posted: Friday, October 30, 2009

The Herald
October 30, 2009

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has broken ranks with MDC-T and has been advocating the lifting of the illegal sanctions that the West imposed on Zimbabwe, documents at hand show.

The documents authored by Minister Biti, who is MDC-T's secretary-general, recognise sanctions especially the US sanctions law, the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act as a major outstanding issue which must be addressed before the economy can develop.

He, however, abrogates the MDC-T of the duty to lead the anti-sanctions lobby that he says should be led by a group of "Elders" like ex-US president Jimmy Carter and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

Under the Global Political Agreement that paved way for the inclusive Government, MDC-T undertook to push for the lifting of the illegal economic sanctions that they invited at the turn of the millennium.

In a document entitled "Debt and Arrears Clearance Strategy" presented to Cabinet recently, Minister Biti said his proposed thrust would only work if sanctions were busted.

"This strategy will be complemented by the need to repeal the Zimbabwe Economic and Democracy Act (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act) of 2001, through lobbying for support for Zimbabwe's position in the USA Congress and Senate.

"This could be done by Government approaching such former US Presidents like Jim Carter and Bill Clinton using other luminaries such as J(ohn) Kuffour (Ghana), K(enneth) Kaunda (Zambia) and (J)oaquim Chissano (Mozambique) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"This should be seen within the context of the Government's overall strategy of busting sanctions through engaging the European Union, the Commonwealth and the USA," said Minister Biti.

MDC-T leaders have refused to admit that sanctions have crippled the economy and Minister Biti's admission marks a significant break from that tradition.

Minister Biti yesterday confirmed that he had presented the document to Cabinet and he becomes the second senior MDC-T member to admit to the reality of sanctions.

Early this month, co-Home Affairs Minister Giles Mutsekwa told a meeting of his colleagues and police chiefs at an Interpol conference that illegal sanctions had negatively affected the economy and the Zimbabwe Republic Police had not been spared.

It is understood that MDC-T's national executive grilled Minister Mutsekwa for making these remarks.

The US sanctions law, among other things, instructs all US citizens sitting on the boards of multilateral lending institutions to oppose any lines of credit or support to Zimbabwe.

The US Treasury has also reportedly instructed some companies not to deal with Zimbabwe, while concerns like Ziscosteel, the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe and ZB Bank are barred from transacting with Americans.

The law also authorises the US Congress to extend funding for organisations opposed to President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

However, observers have said while Minister Biti's remarks were a step in the right direction, they still fell short of the expectations of Zimbabweans.

Political scientist Professor Jonathan Moyo said the admission demonstrated that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF were right that the main outstanding GPA issue was the lifting of the illegal economic embargo.

Prof Moyo said it also showed that MDC-T was an "unreliable" partner in the inclusive Government.

"This demonstrates that the MDC-T position on sanctions shows a dishonest and unreliable partner who says different things at different times to different audiences.

"For example, (MDC-T leader Morgan) Tsvangirai does not want to use the term 'sanctions' yet Biti's document uses it. (Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office) Gorden Moyo has flatly denied that there are sanctions," he said.

"Biti wants the panel that he is recommending to be set up to do the work that they as MDC-T are supposed to be doing. This vindicates President Mugabe and Zanu-PF's position that sanctions are the only outstanding issue in the GPA.

"It also validates the assessment that MDC-T is hypocritical in its engagement and actions," he noted.

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