Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Finance Minister Biti interview

Mugabe seductive, calm, unflappable: Biti

02/07/2012 00:00:00
by Nomsa Nkala I Sunday Mail

Finance Minister and MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti has spoken on his 
admiration for President Robert Mugabe, describing him as “a fountain of 
experience, fountain of knowledge and, most importantly, a fountain of 
stability”. In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Biti also said relations 
between parties in the coalition government had improved significantly and 
also addressed various other issues including his own political ambitions. 
Below are excerpts on the interview:

Coalition government

The GNU (Government of National Unity) has been a very difficult place to 
be. Sometimes we have crossed, fought unnecessarily. But I think at the end 
of the day if you have to have a balance sheet of the pros and cons, the 
advantages and disadvantages, the pain we have suffered is far outweighed by 
the value and dividend that the GNU has brought to our people. We brought a 
modicum of peace and stability to our country and that is very important . . 
. We are not yet there economically, but we have given our people a modicum 
of time out. Most importantly, I think we have restored the social contract. 
There is now predictability and certainty in Zimbabwe. There is also the 
restoration of functional institutions.

The two political parties (Zanu-PF and MDC-T) have gotten together much more 
closely. The greatest lesson of the last three years is that we can work 
together; we are all Zimbabweans. While we can choose our friends we cannot 
choose our country . . . We are stuck together. Every Monday at 3pm the 
President and the Prime Minister have meetings. They have pancakes, tea in 
expensive chinaware and one should never underestimate those meetings. 
Possibly more than anything else, those teas have been the glue that has 
kept this nation together in the last three years.

I was in Luanda (Angolan capital) recently, for the extraordinary meeting of 
heads of state and government of Sadc and we were in the Troika Organ. Each 
of us was (sitting) behind our (respective) leaders. President Mugabe in the 
case of Zanu-PF, president Tsvangirai in the case of MDC-T, Professor 
Welshman Ncube in the case of his party and, of course, there is no house 
without its own stories, Professor Arthur Mutambara miraculously always 
finds himself on the table.

I have been in these negotiations since 2007, but now you can see that 
people can differ, but they are not enemies; they are just opponents. So 
they can differ, they have different opinions. It is no longer the 
life-and-death winner-take-all mentality: I kill you, you kill me.

There has been a movement of the nation towards the search of what I call 
the decisive element; What does it mean to be a Zimbabwean? We may have 
different beliefs, but there is a tag which we have never unpacked, the tag 
of “what it means to be a Zimbabwean” . . . One of the fault lines of our 
country is that we have never unpacked that national question. The inclusive 
Government has given us a starting point of beginning to unpack some of 
these hard questions of nationhood that the Americans — the Thomas 
Jeffersons, the George Washingtons, the Hamiltons of this world, answered in 
America in 1774 to 1777. We need to unpack that question.


I think in the long term, the sacrosanctity of the identity of 
Zimbabweanhood must not be compromised under any circumstances because it is 
almost like your birthright; you cannot change it. So the sooner we accept 
that the better. The second thing is respect and tolerance . . . let us 
accept that we are all the same. There is also the question of the rule of 
law. We should all be below the law. The law must treat us equally . . . We 
are all ordinary people so we should not be afraid of power and the State. 
The next issue is on how we solve our disputes.

To me it is so important that we should not use violence as an instrument of 
political arbitration. This is critical. Let us have our differences and you 
must persuade me to see things your way. But do not use violence. We must 
never be a society run by coercion.

(In addition) 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.

Cabinet relations

I think the relationship which all of us admire is the relationship between 
the Prime Minister and the President. I think they have found their own 
zone, their own space, which is above their parties. You see it in their 
body language that these people have now found dialogue and the space within 
which they communicate, which is above both MDC-T and Zanu-PF. At individual 
ministerial level, I think there are a lot of cross-party relations. There 
is a lot of cross-party understanding.

One of the things about government is that you cannot do it alone. If you 
adopt a silo-approach to government you will fail. So the Minister of 
Finance must work with the Minister of Mines, the Minister of Transport, 
etc. I have just spent two hours with (Youth Development, Indigenisation and 
Economic Empowerment) Minister (Saviour) Kasukuwere trying to persuade each 
other on the balance between foreign direct investment and empowerment. It 
was a very good meeting.

So you need those synergies . . . Of course, there are still tensions, but I 
think people are mature enough . . . The synergies are there, understandings 
are there, which is important because we are serving the same people.

GPA principals

I think they complement each other. Arthur Mutambara is younger than all of 
them. He has energy and is robust. I think Prime Minister Tsvangirai 
naturally respects President Mugabe, and that is very important, and he also 
understands that there are certain decisions which have to be made by the 

I think they understand each other. President Mugabe is the founding 
President of this country, so I do not think anyone in Government denies the 
invaluability of his wisdom and experience. If you sit in Cabinet, the one 
thing about the President is that he is unflappable. He will give you time. 
I must confess that.

Working with Mugabe

We have had to take difficult and unpopular decisions at the Ministry of 
Finance. There is no finance ministry, if it is doing its work correctly, 
that will be popular. It is about the best interests of the economy. I want 
to tell you that I have basically been allowed to do what I believe is in 
the best interest of the country. When I do my budget I take it to President 

There has not been a single discussion where he has said, “No, no.” He will 
say, “Why don’t you have a relook at this, but he will not use the word “no” 
. . . I speak my mind in the private meetings. I have had meetings with the 
President that have lasted for three hours . . . I respect that and I also 
respect his counsel. What I have come to realise is that if I have a 
difficult issue, he will unlock it. What I want to also appreciate about the 
man is his capacity to listen, counsel, most importantly, his 
unflappability. It is very important for a leader to listen to both sides 
(of a story) and not to (easily) get angry.

(The President) is unflappable. I will never be like him. I am a bulldozer, 
a black rhinoceros. That is why I used to support Black Rhinos (Football 
Club); force, force. He is the opposite. We have learnt a lot from him. I 
sit with him and talk for hours. You will be surprised what we talk about. 
We talk about everything: girls, politics, everything (giggles)!

Mugabe’s legacy

We find counsel and wisdom in him. His importance in this country will be 
seen once he’s gone. When he’s gone that is when you will see that this man 
was Zimbabwe. Some of us who came from different parties have had to learn a 
lot from the man. He is a fountain of experience, fountain of knowledge and, 
most importantly, a fountain of stability.

There are a lot of horrible things that would have happened in this country 
if he had not said “No.” History will prove the correctness of this 
statement. He has been the number one symbol of stability. There are people 
who would have wanted to destroy this country internally, but his value has 
been to say “No.” Even this GNU; there are people who wanted to destroy it 
within two months, and it would have died. Where would we have been with a 
hyperinflation of 500 billion percent?

So, I think us younger generations are lucky to have gone through his hands. 
He is a very seductive man . . . If you have a private discussion with him, 
you will be shocked by the calmness. I have been saying to my British 
friends that he is the most British of all British people I have come across 
. . . He is very calm and seductive: I am sure every woman is in love with 

He has defended his country. I think he has fought his generational fight, 
which was the liberation and democratisation of the country. He fought and 
fought very well. This generation, you and me, must take this country to 
another level, which is economic liberation. So, Robert Mugabe as the 
nationalist, as the liberator, he has fought a good fight.

But what has our generation done? Each generation must fight its own fight. 
I am very clear about what we have to do in this generation. In my small 
way, I would like to think that I am fighting the battles of my own 
generation. Unfortunately, I do not think my own generation has a common and 
united understanding of the generational obligations of our time.

US of IMF funds

We have withdrawn the money. The SDR was a mere US$500 million. The only 
money that is left is US$100 million, which we cannot use because we do not 
know what will happen if the political leaders say they want an election. So 
there has to be a contingent plan, and Government understands that. The 
requirements of this country exceed US$18 billion. Just on infrastructure 
alone within the next five years, the country needs US$12 billion. On energy 
generation alone we require

US$4 billion. Then water, roads and information communication technology. So 
the infrastructure deficit alone is US$12 billion. This is why I said we 
have to be much smarter, we have to be reintegrated into the world economy, 
we have to sort our arrears question, which is putting an impediment on our 
capacity to borrow from the World Bank and the African Development Bank. We 
have to lower our country risk profile so that we are able to go on to 
normal capital markets to borrow money at cheap markets at 2 percent; 1 
percent concessionary lending, which we are not able to do.

There is no way we are going to grow this economy without foreign direct 
investment, without overseas development assistance. We have to normalise 
our relations with the Americans, the British, the West, the Chinese, the 
Malaysians. It is not about looking East or West; it is about looking 
forward in the best interest of this country.

Investment drive

There are four fundamental things we are doing. The first is the bilateral 
and multilateral engagements with the West. This is why you have seen the 
committee of ministers (Energy and Power Development), Elton Mangoma, 
(Regional Integration and International Co-operation), Priscilla 
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and (Justice and Legal Affairs), Patrick Chinamasa 
working hard to ensure that we complete our re-engagement.

Number two is re-engagement with international financial institutions. We 
are working very hard to normalise relations. That is why we published the 
Zimbabwe Accelerated Arrears Development Strategy. Number three is to put 
our house in political order. We had an urgent Cabinet meeting on finances 
alone on Thursday July 5 2012. We came up with a vast array of measures, 
which are decisive. Nobody told us to do that.

The IMF was very pleased . . . In my mid-term statement I am going to make 
major announcements to refocus this economy on the growth trajectory. What 
we are simply doing is to say that we are Zimbabweans, we understand our 
errors: omissions and commissions of the past, but we will be able, using 
our own common sense, to refocus and redirect our economy so that it is in 
the best interest of our people. If our economy is serving the majority of 
our people, I can tell you it will be able to integrate with that of South 
Africa. The whole idea of sovereign governments is to serve your people. 
That is what some of us have been trying to do tirelessly in the last three 

Impact of sanctions

Zimbabwe has to be integrated, so we have to be a full member of the 
international community. That is unpardonable, unforgivable. We are such a 
tiny little country. Right now, our gross domestic product (GDP) is US$11 
billion, which is slightly higher than that of Lesotho and Swaziland. In 
1990, we were the second highest GDP in Southern Africa after South Africa.

So whatever restrictions are there are not serving the best interests of 
Zimbabwe. Equally, as Zimbabweans, let us address those issues that gave 
rise to those sanctions or measures, whatever you want to call them. Some of 
us have been very clear. I have spent hours and hours with (US Assistant 
Secretary of State for African Affairs) Johnny Carson and people at the 
European Union . . . It’s not about Robert Mugabe or Zanu-PF, it’s about 
every Zimbabwean.

Agriculture funding

The resource envelope is narrow. I think most of the criticism is made out 
of ignorance. Until 2000, 79 percent of all bank lending in Zimbabwe went to 
agriculture. What this means is that agriculture has always primarily been 
financed by the banking system. This is the story in Canada, South Africa 
and Kenya. There is no government in the world that can adequately finance 
agriculture. It is not possible. We have done the best that we can under a 
very restrictive budget.

The requirements of agriculture are US$2 billion per year. That is our 
entire budget. Between February 2009 and now, the Government has pumped in 
at least US$700 million into agriculture. The rest of the financial sector 
has put in about US$1,3 billion to create a total of US$2 billion finance 
since 2009 to now. We have seen that producing results. In 2008, maize 
production was 200 000 metric tonnes. Tobacco was a mere 32 000kg.

In 2010, we had 1,5 million kilogrammes of maize; 135 million kg of tobacco. 
We had over 300 000 tonnes of cotton. So if you want to see what we have 
done on agriculture, compare the outputs of 2008 and now. What everyone 
needs to understand — whether it is farmers, doctors, nurses — is that the 
cake is small. We have been struggling to pay wages in the last six months. 
If you speak to the Salary Services Bureau, the pay dates of civil servants 
in 2012 have changed three times because we have not been able to pay on 
normal dates.

The economy is not performing . . . But I am not the one who is going to cry 
and sit and feel pity for myself. I am a doer. I will look the beast in the 
eye; I will not blink and I will look forward and implement the policies 
that are in the best interest of the country. That is what I am going to do 
in the budget announcement in the next two weeks. You will see boldness, you 
will see leadership.

Civil servants

The economy is small; we can cry, but that’s that. We are very transparent 
at the Ministry of Finance and we are going to slash the national budget 
significantly next month. That is a recognition that we cannot meet our 
targets. We do not have money. So, the issue is: whether you are a civil 
servant, farmer, doctor, lawyer and you say you want more money under 
circumstances where the original budget is actually being cut, where will it 
come from? If you can show us where the money is going to come from, then 

It is a State of austerity. All of us must understand that. If this 
Government were irresponsible, then it would be building stadiums and buying 
helicopters and guns, but we are not doing that. In 2009, I came up with the 
philosophy that we must eat what we kill. If all Zimbabweans, including 
civil servants, are killing a rat, then you cannot expect to eat an elephant 
when you are killing a rat. It is common sense. The best economists in 
Zimbabwe are ordinary housewives.

They know that if my husband earns US$200, I am going to shop at 
Mupedzanhamo (Mbare Flea Market in Harare). You cannot go into Barbours 
(Department Store) when your husband is earning US$100. A lot of us are 
getting into Barbours, if not Harrods (British luxury store) when we are 
earning US$100. It is basic economics. You don’t need (American economists) 
Paul Volcker or (Alan) Greenspan to tell you this. The Ministry of Finance 
does not have a secret machine where we print US dollars.

Bank troubles

I respect the law: I am a lawyer. The regulator is the Central Bank. The 
banking sector in Zimbabwe is sound. We have 23 banks. Of these, we have 
shut down one and another is under curatorship. During the global economic 
crisis of 2008, hundreds of banks fell.

All regulatory authorities in the past few years were caught with their 
pants down because of regulatory arbitrage and the over-creativity of the 
banking sector. This is the reason why I am going to come up with major 
amendments to the Banking Act to deal with this issue of regulatory 
arbitrage. The problem with the banks has really been an issue of corporate 
governance, insider arm-length lending to oneself and so forth.

That explains why NMB is sound, functional, yet it is an indigenous bank 
while others are crumbling. The corporate culture there is different. FBC is 
arguably the best-run bank in Zimbabwe; it is also an indigenous bank . . . 
But things will be different. We also want to encourage our black brothers 
to merge their small banks and create strong ones. This idea of merely 
boasting about owning a bank is primitive. We are going to encourage mergers 
to create strong indigenous banks that are able to stand on their feet.

Political ambitions

Prime Minister Tsvangirai is one of the most wonderful, but, like President 
Mugabe, also very much misunderstood, very much understated people. You need 
to know him to understand the qualities of that man: the sense of love, 
forgiveness and fairness. I would not be in the MDC. Our party split and I 
could have gone anywhere, but I chose to stay with him under extremely 
difficult circumstances because of his qualities as a man.

People should never have ambitions, in my view. God will put you where he 
wants you (to be). If you look at the history of Zanu-PF, Robert Mugabe 
would never have been the President of Zanu-PF. If you look at the history 
of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai would never have been there. God places you. I 
find it very difficult (to understand) when people who are ambitious say, “I 
want to be president and so forth.” God is there.

People are quarrelling over who will succeed Mugabe, but God has already 
predetermined. Our people are also not fools. They will judge you on your 
commissions and omissions. I personally do not worry about those things. I 
do not think about those things. I will never phone anyone to conspire, 
telling them I want to be this or that. If you said to me, during those days 
when I was a young lawyer, “you are going to be the Minister of Finance”, I 
would have said you are crazy.

MDC-T a Western puppet

That is cheap propaganda. We are a Zimbabwean party as anyone else. The good 
thing is that the last three years have proved it and we have been in 
Government. There is never a budget I have presented that you can say is an 
MDC budget. It is a Zimbabwean budget . . . That is patronising . . . It is 
assuming that black people do not think, therefore they can be influenced by 
a foreigner. It is false. No one thinks on behalf of someone else. (And) we 
do not (get funding from the West). It is unlawful. We received funding 
under the Political Parties Act and that is fact.

Land reform

On the land reform programme, as MDC, we differ with the manner in which it 
was done. However, it is now water under the bridge. What is important is 
that we rationalise and democratise it, which is why you have heard me 
saying that anyone who has been given land must now be secure.

Give the beneficiaries long leases or titles to allow them to sell their 
properties, transfer them to their children in their wills, hypothecate them 
to banks and borrow money. The revolution must have a conclusion. If the 
programme was about taking land from white people, the next Chimurenga on 
land should be to restore the property (land) market. 


Tobacco sales fetch US$258m

Tobacco sales fetch US$258m    Herald 3/7/2020 Herald Reporter Tobacco sales have reached 110 million kilogrammes worth US$258 million, with deliveries to contract companies and

Read More »

Agric tops micro-finance loan book

Agric tops micro-finance loan book  Herald 12/9/2019   Mr Chitambo Fradreck Gorwe Business Reporter Good rains anticipated countrywide during the 2019/20 farming season, have seen agriculture

Read More »

New Posts: