MDC to revisit indigenisation deals
HARARE – Finance minister Tendai Biti (pictured) has promised a huge shift in the country’s indigenisation policy if his MDC party romps to victory in the forthcoming watershed poll.
The MDC secretary-general says his party wants to “re-think” President Robert Mugabe’s empowerment policies in statements that show a tense election campaign.
It’s been a fractious — and occasionally controversial — campaign with just a few months to go to the harmonised election with MDC presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai in a statistical dead-heat with Mugabe in the latest opinion polls.
Biti upped the ante at a weekend campaign stop at Mukandabhutsu and Runniville shops in Harare East, playing to his core supporters with some aggressive rhetoric about the incumbent’s indigenisation policy.
Essentially, he promised more pragmatism and less ideology, and shredded the Zanu PF indigenisation policy is an elitist programme.
The lawyer-cum-politician said the MDC will revisit all agreements signed by Zimplats, Mimosa, Unki mines which have exposed how only a few people connected to Zanu PF are benefiting from the policy.
“The MDC is clear. The party of excellence will revisit and review all clandestine and incestuous agreements made at night and in secret. We will not legitimise such agreements,” Biti said.
“The MDC wants to know how many jobs each company will create. We want value addition on our raw materials thus creating jobs. Let platinum be used to make cars in our country, so that our children will have jobs in here.”
The 46-year-old made sure to touch one of Mugabe’s sore points — alleged theft of diamond cash by Chinese mining firms linked to the military digging for gems in the Marange fields, with whom the veteran leader has developed an elaborate political and technological cooperation.
It’s become a tougher election than Mugabe would have liked.
“Right now, we do not know what is happening to our diamonds,” Biti said.
“We are going to audit all the diamond income, to trace where the money came from and went to. We are watching these things. The people of Zimbabwe are watching. White collar crimes will and cannot be hidden because there will always be an audit trail,” he said.
As well as lambasting economic incompetence, Biti has accused Mugabe of “rewarding the corrupt” hoping to benefit from the growing perception that senior members of the Zanu PF leader’s administration have grown rich in power while others are involved in diamond trading, protected by a justice system that do the executive’s bidding.
But last month Mugabe was forced to suspend a Manicaland provincial executive working on his campaign after details emerged that they could have received bundles of money from a diamond firms.
The scandal was reported relentlessly on the pro-Mugabe State television station and revived questions about some of the corrupt Zanu PF elite.
But for all the talk of seismic shifts —perhaps intended to make Zimbabwe a more palatable option for businesses around the world — analysts caution against making too much of Biti’ campaign speeches, particularly his dismissal of Mugabe’s Indigenisation policy.
Biti said Zanu PF’s biggest failure was economic mismanagement and lack of love, and said if the ex-majority party had listened to the cries of the people, they would have invested in infrastructure that would see all the people benefitting.
“In the last four years, I was in the cockpit as the Finance minister and I discovered that it’s not difficult to run an economy, but you need the correct ingredients,” he said.
“When managing the economy, the first ingredient is love. You must love your people. You must know your priority. The people are saying we want schools and you buy arms of war, which is a wrong order. When you buy vehicles and build stadiums when people need housing then you are offside.”
Biti said the first step towards creating the one million jobs contained in his party’s economic blueprint Juice, was to have foreign direct investment (FDI), which encourages investors to capitalise on local industries.
“FDI does not come from China alone,” he said. “As MDC, we have friends the world over, and we are proud of having all these friends. Some say Look East, others say Look West but as MDC we look forward. We want every foreign investor to come into our beautiful country.” – Gift Phiri, Political Editor