HARARE – There are growing indications that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his erstwhile lieutenant Tendai Biti may be willing to work together again for the good of Zimbabwe, as the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections beckon.
Sources within Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) told the Daily News yesterday that leading lights within the MDC off-shoot had now come to accept that the quest for democratic change in the country was unlikely to “go anywhere” without Tsvangirai and the MDC being key players in the movement.
“This is simple political pragmatism, borne out of the realisation that notwithstanding any differences that people may have, Tsvangirai is an important player in Zimbabwe’s democratisation project. After all, (President Robert) Mugabe and Zanu PF are the sole authors of Zimbabwe’s problems, and not Tsvangirai.
“Indeed, you will also know that for quite some time now, our party has taken a decision that it will no longer bad-mouth Tsvangirai and the MDC, but focus our guns on the real authors of our country’s pain and anarchy, Mugabe and Zanu PF.
“This is also part of the reason why PDP did not sign the recent pact between small opposition parties as it excluded Tsvangirai and the MDC — which is impolitic if you analyse the reality of current Zimbabwean politics.
“While I can’t speak for the party, and depending on how Tsvangirai and other players move, all this could be the basis for the mooted grand coalition of opposition forces against Mugabe,” one of the PDP sources said.
As if to confirm the PDP bigwig’s sentiments, Tsvangirai and Biti ganged up against Mugabe yesterday, as their parties released a joint statement calling on international financial institutions to hang back on doling aid to the Zanu PF government until fundamental electoral reforms were in place.
In the statement issued via the MDC and PDP finance secretaries Tapiwa Mashakada and Vince Musewe respectively, the parties expressed grave reservations about the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) “agenda to re-engage and assist what to us is essentially a rogue regime whose time to go has come”.
The statement came as the broke Zimbabwean government has been making frantic efforts to re-engage international lenders in a desperate bid to stem the country’s accelerating economic collapse.
“There is no doubt that the only viable solution for Zimbabwe is for Mugabe to go and the replacement of his looting machinery with a new team that will take our country forward.
“There is no other alternative to that and yet it seems to us that ‘stability’ as opposed to substantive political change is more important to the IMF and its Western backers. We do not agree with that paradigm,” the MDC and PDP protested.
During the era of the stability-inducing government of national unity, Tsvangirai was prime minister and Biti was minister of Finance — with the duo spearheading the process of re-engagement with the IMF, which resulted in the country’s ongoing “Staff-Monitored Programme”.
But since the GNU ended after Zanu PF won the hotly-disputed 2013 national elections, the Zimbabwe economy has collapsed spectacularly, even as Mugabe’s administration has continued with negotiations with the IMF.
Pragmatic Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa — who is now leading the re-engagement process, has since reached the stage where the IMF is supposed to clear the country’s accumulated arrears on loans extended by multilateral agencies amounting to $1,7 billion.
But Tsvangirai and Biti are concerned that the IMF has bent over backwards too much “despite the palpable failure of government to meet its fiscal and monetary targets and its obligations to make the indigenisation laws more acceptable to investors”.
“Unfortunately, the pursuit of appeasement and not confrontation of the dictator continues to fuel some false hope in the minds of this regime that everything is going to be okay, even when it is evident that it is time for fundamental political and leadership change in Zimbabwe if we are to see any economic revival.
“Zimbabwe is bankrupt and is unable to meet its day-to-day needs and is therefore a failed State, thanks to Mugabe and his coterie of praise singers. Only substantive political and economic reforms can save Zimbabwe,” their parties said.
The “false hope” that the West was giving to Mugabe, they said, had resulted in the government contemplating the issuance of a “pseudo and proxy currency termed bond notes” as a means to escape the urgency of implementing substantive economic reforms” as promised to the IMF last year.
Then, Chinamasa promised to implement a supportive economic reform agenda which includes the strengthening of confidence in the financial services sector, accelerating re-engagement with the international community, revitalising agriculture, advancing beneficiation in agriculture and mining, focusing on infrastructure development, improving the investment climate, accelerating public enterprise reform, modernising labour laws and aligning all laws with the constitution.
“Almost nine months later, no reforms are in place and we have actually seen an increase in corruption, confusion and bungling within the financial services sector which has now run out of cash, continued occupation of agricultural properties, corrupt infrastructure development deals with inflated costs to fund the Zanu PF looting machinery, the continued collapsing of small companies due to non-viability, declining productivity and export earnings and lack of new capital investment inflows.
“On the political front, we have seen activists getting arrested without cause and the deliberate subversion of the will of the people by interfering in the management of city councils. We have also seen a deliberate dithering to align our laws with the new Constitution. That is unacceptable,” the two parties said.
They added that there was a crisis of leadership in the country and that far from being stable, the status quo reflected paralysis and regression, with Mugabe “seeking to buy time through empty promises and postponing the inevitable”.
“Any economic reforms contemplated must address key structural problems of low productivity, negative growth, public financial mismanagement and corruption, including addressing the national debt. Without these, we wager that the macro-economic environment will continue to deteriorate further,” they said.