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Seat: (Part 2) Tendai Biti says MDC government will target multiple
Gonda, SW Radio Africa
May 29, 2013
Gonda Welcome to the final segment of
the two-part interview with Finance Minister Tendai Biti, where
the MDC-T Secretary General continues to detail his party’s
policies ahead of elections, including their land policy. The MDC-T
also alleges that billions of dollars have been stolen
from the diamond sector. So I started by asking Mr Biti to explain
how his party will deal with the powerful individuals who they say
continue to siphon off the money from the country’s minerals.
Biti First let’s be very clear,
it would be foolhardy for any government, the MDC or any government,
to anchor a policy based on vindictiveness and retribution. ART
and JUICE are not based
on vindictiveness and retribution. So we are not going to set up
a ministry to arrest people, prosecute people, it doesn’t
work. The first thing you have to do is to make sure that you stop
the hemorrhage. If people are stealing diamonds – how and
why – and you stop that so that it doesn’t happen again
and you offer incentives that people don’t steal.
So pay people decently,
have accountability, create incentives so that people can invest
in that new society through trust, which is why we are saying the
key issues that the MDC will do together with the new constitution
is the restoration of the social contracts in Zimbabwe, the building
of a new society based on inclusivity and virtual cycles of growth
not vicious cycles of predatoriness. That’s number one Violet
you want to move forward.
Secondly the thing about
with money and so forth, everything to do with an audit trial, they
don’t go away, they don’t go away. If you steal you
are committing an offence and pachiShona tinoti mhosva haiwori,
that’s also true in English crimes don’t go away. There
are laws that are there, the new constitution has created an independent
national prosecuting authority. It will be the job and duty of whosoever
is the director of prosecutions, the director of the independent
prosecuting authority to make sure that justice is done but the
focus of government must be to ensure that there is food on the
table, there are jobs, industries are working, there’s power
in the country, there’re roads in the country, the maternal
mortality rate has been brought down, the infant mortality has been
brought down. So we want to uplift our people, we want to uplift
the generality of Zimbabweans and ART does that, JUICE does that
and that’s the future.
I’m asking what incentives will you offer to the people currently
controlling the diamond sector?
It’s very easy to do, the law must be respected. If anyone
doesn’t respect the law, he must be prosecuted. No one should
be above the law, the constitution is speaking to that. So stop,
stop the leakages, stop the hemorrhages, that’s number one,
that’s how you control order.
Number two, you as a
government must be fair, you must treat everyone equally.
Three, you as a government
must consult. That’s why one of the cornerstones of ART is
the social dialogue that is codified along the lines of NEDLAC in
South Africa. The government must be able to listen to itself.
Number four, the government
itself must be very clear on anti corruption which is why one of
the things that we are saying in ART is that all public officials
must declare their assets every year: Guys I have four underwear.
Guys I’ve got four vests. Guys I’ve got four bras –
size 46B. That must happen at the beginning of every year. Those
are the incentives that we find in every other modern democratic
state and we are going to do that.
And what exactly is your policy on the security sector?
A lot of the work has actually been done and is in the new constitution.
The new constitution
is very clear that security forces are subject to the constitution,
the president and to parliament. That is very clear Violet. In other
words, security forces must salute whatever president is there,
that is a key important.
Number two the new constitution
makes it very clear that in the implementation of their job, in
the implementation of their task, the security forces are subject
to the constitution, in particular to the Bill of Rights that’s
very important, that’s key.
Number three is the issue
that if the public has got any complaints against the security forces,
there’s that Complaints Commission which we have created in
Number four, no member
of the security forces should be an active member of a political
party. Now this is the biggest mischief in Zimbabwe that a small
section of our security forces are an extension of a certain political
party. That’s not good but the constitution has outlawed that.
Number five is the issue,
which is so important that all leaders of the security forces are
subject to term limits, that is critical. Then the other things,
which you need now are:
One to make sure that
the security forces stay in barracks:
Two that security forces,
their conditions of service are looked after because sometimes what
causes some of these things, is bad conditions of services.
Three is the total demilitarization
So those are
some of the few things that are already covered by the constitution
which need to be done. The constitution itself also has to make
it very clear, and we said it in the GPA,
that the syllabus, the curriculum of, the training of our security
forces must have a human rights bias and a constitutional knowledge
bias. That’s important. So these are some of the things that
have to be done under security sector reform.
You heard army general Constantine Chiwenga recently said he will
not work with puppets of the west, meaning your party, and he’s
on record together with several other service chiefs saying that
they will not salute Prime Minister Tsvangirai. So what process
are you going to use to isolate parties or individuals who do not
want this concept of realignment or …. (interrupted)
… Violet, there is no one on earth who is higher than the
people. If the people of Zimbabwe say they want Morgan Richard Tsvangirai
there, they have spoken. So if you are a functionary when Morgan
Tsvangirai is president, you resign, it’s a constitutional
right to resign. So for me it is not an issue that I will ever lose
sleep over. People will speak and what the people have said, we
live in a democracy, what the people have said is a democracy and
if you don’t agree with that, then resign and go and farm.
What we will not accept is a coup or some other destabilization.
Zimbabwe doesn’t need further blood to be spilled in the name
Well some people say that the law has always been there but it would
appear that certain elements in society are above the law and even
your party said in 2008 that the people spoke and voted for you
but that Zanu-PF refused to recognize this and that is why you had
And even the army generals have been consistent since day one saying
that they will not recognize what they describe as MDC puppets.
So I’m asking what is your party going to do to ensure that
there is no repeat of 2008?
I’ve answered that question very clearly. There is no one
in Zimbabwe, there is no one anywhere in the world who will be able
to reverse what the people have said, there is no-one in Zimbabwe.
Morgan Tsvangirai is the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe for Christ’s
sake. I don’t think they wanted that, I don’t think
they wanted that. Lovemore Moyo is the Speaker of the Parliament
of Zimbabwe, I don’t think they wanted that. I’m the
Finance Minister of Zimbabwe, I don’t think they wanted that.
So they couldn’t stop that. So once the people have spoken,
they have spoken, no one will disobey that.
And if they do? Because many skeptics are saying it is going to
Biti It doesn’t
happen and it has never happened anywhere Violet. It doesn’t
happen and it has never happened anywhere.
Gonda But Mr. Biti,
you said you won in the last elections but Zanu-PF refused to relinquish
power so how are you going to ensure that those things don’t
Biti On the 8th of March
2012 we published a document called, “The Conditions for Sustainable
Elections in Zimbabwe” Violet. That document answers the question
you are asking me. When we go to an election, when we go to this
election, there are going to be three things guaranteed. Three things
and we’re going to make sure they are there through international
law, through SADC, through the African Union. Those three things
are the integrity of the vote; those three things are the integrity
of the voter; the third thing is the security of the people’s
will, the people’s will must be respected. And if you look
at what we have been doing in SADC, we are doing those things to
ensure that the people’s will be respected in this country.
So we have answered that question over and over and over and over
again. The one thing that I will tell you we will not do, we will
not take up arms. We are a peaceful constitutional party, that is
what we will not do but the people are there, the people will speak
and there is nowhere in history where the people’s will has
been subverted, it doesn’t happen Violet.
Gonda So Zimbabwe is
not heading for a second GNU?
Biti The worst thing
that can happen to Zimbabwe is another GNU. The coalition such as
the one we have had is painful, is frustrating, is killing because
things don’t move but what I can accept, that which must happen
is that we must have a national government. Some kind of inclusive
government, representative government but what is key is that we
must have one leader in respect of whom the buck stops with but
another coalition government such as the GNU – ah my friend
it’s not on, it will kill the country.
Gonda I was actually
going to ask you that what has the MDC learnt from the experience
of trying to share power?
Biti You know a coalition
government is like a marriage so if you are in a marriage you have
got a faithful partner who loves you and looks after you, it will
be a happy coalition which is why, I was just speaking to some European
parliamentarians the other day and I was saying coalitions are ugly.
They looked shocked because in their countries they’ve got
coalitions just because the social contract is there, they can trust
each other but that is not the experience, which we have here. We’ve
had an unfaithful partner. We’ve had an unfaithful partner
in the form of Zanu-PF, a dishonest partner in the form of Zanu-PF,
an abusive partner in the form of Zanu-PF, a wife-bashing partner
in the form of Zanu-PF. So this marriage has been a nightmare Violet.
Gonda So why did the
MDC go all over the world campaigning for the removal of sanctions
if it’s been a nightmare, being in this GNU?
Biti Ah you see you
mix issues. We have gone out in the country to say Zimbabwe must
be integrated! Zimbabwe can’t be isolated. That has nothing
to do with Zanu-PF. It is important because we are looking after
the people of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe matter. The people
of Zimbabwe suffer because we are being isolated. It pains me as
Minister of Finance that four billion dollars, seven billion dollars
of investment is going to Tete and we can’t even get a billion
dollars. Integration is important so don’t mix issues.
Gonda So how do you
respond to people who ask you if the sanctions have done much damage
to Zimbabwe as the people in Zimbabwe who have stolen diamonds in
Biti This conversation
is about our programme. In ART the MDC want to have, to be fully
integrated. Zimbabwe wants to be a full member of the international
community, the African Union, SADC, the UN, the African Development
Bank, the Commonwealth we want to be a full member of the international
community that is what we say in ART.
Gonda So since you want
Zimbabwe to be a full member of the international community, what
about the way the MDC is being viewed by the international community?
A lot has also been written about the MDC becoming Zanu-PF like
or adopted this culture of chef mentality, with some newspapers,
international newspapers such as the Guardian, the UK Guardian or
even recently the New York Times wrote an article saying that the
MDC seems to be enjoying the trappings of power. What’s your
reaction to this?
Biti We’re a people’s
project Violet, we are accountable to the people; this is a party
that was formed into, you know, 13 years ago so it can’t suddenly
mutate into a sobriquet that was formed more than 40 years ago that
is used to predatoriness and violence. So that’s crazy, you
can’t compare Zanu-PF and us. We are not Zanu-PF that’s
why I am having this conversation with you, which you will never
have with a Zanu-PF person.
Gonda I’m sure
you will have seen the reports… (interrupted)
Biti I have answered
your question! Yes I’ve seen the Guardian, I’ve seen
the New York Times, I’ve seen opinion polls, I’ve seen
Gonda Is the MDC building
its entire fortune round the brand which is Morgan Tsvangirai in
the same way that Zanu-PF did to Mugabe?
Biti Morgan Tsvangirai
is the undisputed leader of the MDC. Morgan Tsvangirai is the face
of change in this country. He is a simple man who grew up in a village
in Humanikwa. Who had the guts, despite all other Zimbabweans with
their degrees, who had the guts of standing up to a dictator. He
did not blink. He has been beaten up, tortured, he has lost his
wife. So to suddenly say Morgan Tsvangirai this, Morgan is that
is a historical. We have got a bridge to cross and we are going
to cross it and mark my words, that same Morgan Tsvangirai is going
to win this election by 78%. Mark my words.
Gonda So what about
criticisms that Morgan Tsvangirai is morally and organizationally
weak? How would you respond as a party?
Biti I’m, you
know, I’m discussing the MDC’s policies and ART and
JUICE. Morgan Tsvangirai is the undisputed leader of our party and
Morgan Tsvangirai is going to be the next president of Zimbabwe.
The people of Zimbabwe will speak, the election is here and very
soon the people of Zimbabwe will speak.
He has led us all through
these years you know in the deep end against all odds and these
things that you are saying are not new. We have been accused in
the past of violence, of breaching our constitutions and so forth.
Everyone has said all kinds of things against us; we are stupid,
we are indecisive, we are disunited. The only thing we haven’t
been accused of is incest with our sisters or our mothers. That’s
the only thing.
So all these things that
you are saying are not new and once again we’ll prove the
critics as we did yesterday, we’ll prove them today, we will
prove them tomorrow, prove them wrong. This was the people’s
project, it was not formed in a hotel. The people’s project
owned by the people, accountable to the people with the durability
of the fact that it was fueled by the people. So it is lasting and
it will last.
Gonda How do you respond
to people who say there is serious infighting or factionalism in
Biti They have been
saying this for years. They’ve been saying this for years.
They said this when we went to our congress – ah the MDC is
going to split. They said it at our congress, we remained standing.
They said it when we went into government, they won’t last.
They said it when we went to our congress in 2006, these people
won’t last particularly after Welshman (Ncube) and others
had left but we are still there, stronger than ever, united than
Gonda There are reports
saying that there are sharp differences between yourself and Prime
Minister Tsvangirai and also sharp differences between you and Nelson
Chamisa. Are these just differences amongst friends or is there
more to it?
Biti That’s foolish,
that’s foolish. These are things that you’ve been writing
for years, for years. We’ve had one leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and the deputy Thokozani Khupe. So if you ask me about the issue
of succession, we’ve got a number two, Thokozani Khupe. These
things are clear and straightforward, read our constitution. Let
me state again, this is a people’s project, this is a people’s
project and that’s why this we’ll be celebrating our
policies, we’ll be celebrating the Agenda for Real Transformation
and we’ll be celebrating JUICE. No other party in Zimbabwe
has got a single paper of its policies a single paper, certainly
I understand that there are at least 29 political parties that are
going to participate in the forthcoming
elections so as MDC what do you make of this?
Biti What’s new
Violet? Every time we have an election, everyone comes out of the
woodwork and says I’m a political party. When we have to go
to an election everyone comes out of the woodwork and says we’ve
got this party, me and my wife are now this party so there’s
nothing new. I’m actually surprised that there’s 28,
I thought there would be 128.
Gonda Some observers
say you should form a political pact or an election pact with some
of the smaller political parties. What’s your reaction to
Biti We are very clear
all democrats must work together. It’s important, we don’t
Gonda Is there any movement
Biti Ahhh I know that
there are various levels of dialogue taking place, remember there
are so many political parties Dumiso Dabengwa and so forth. I know
that the parties are talking to each other. I know that. Whether
they are talking to each other in terms of a concrete agenda, I’m
not sure about that. But the bottom line is that the principals
of the parties talking to each other and working with each other
on a broad popular front, no one can (inaudible) that.
Gonda Land is one of
the issues that many people have been talking about and they want
to know what the MDC policy is on this.
Biti Yes. Look we are
the ones who said in April 2000, and I’m the one who actually
wrote that policy, that we want to take eight million hectares of
land from the 15 million hectares of land being held by members
of the Commercial Farmers Union. Five million will be used to resettle
agricultural people, three million will be used to deal with urban
houses. Zanu, from 1980 to 1990, over 20 years, they’d only
taken 3.2million hectares. So they only latched onto the land because
they were defeated in the referendum and then they pretended to
be revolutionaries when they were not revolutionaries.
I was reading minutes of the Lancaster House constitution,
not on a single day do you see them raising the issue of land at
Lancaster and so it’s shocking. So this issue about Zanu being
a party of the land is nonsensical.
But anyway to answer
your question specifically, this is what we propose to do with the
land question the first thing, the acquisitions of land that took
place between 2000 and now, no one can reverse them, they are irreversible.
But number two, you need
to democratize that and you will democratize that by the following:
a) de-racialise land ownership so every Zimbabwean, black, blue,
white, green and yellow must have the right to own land in Zimbabwe.
Fortunately Chapter 16 of the constitution, which we have signed,
Number three give, give
title, give title to everyone who owns land right now. Give title,
Zanu-PF is refusing to give title even long leases because it is
using land as a political field. Once you have left and you belong
to another party, they will take away that land. So we are saying
everyone who is on land must have security of tenure.
Number four restore the
market for land. There is no market in Zimbabwe for land at the
present moment. Land is a dead asset just with use value but with
non-exchange value. Let land be hypothecated. Let land be used as
security in the banks. By 1999 74% of bank lending went into agriculture,
went into farms. Now it is not there, 19% of bank lending is going
into flat-screened televisions and other things like that. We need
to restore land market in Zimbabwe, that’s so critical, that’s
very, very critical.
And number five let us
have security of tenure. Any person who is on land must be secure.
People are not secure right now look at what is happening in the
Save Conservancy and so forth. Number six let us have adequate compensation
for the former landowners. At the present moment Zanu is saying
we pay them for improvements; the MDC’s policy is that there
must be full compensation including even where there is arable land
that is not being used by anyone. If a former white farmer says;
Look, I know you are not using this land, give me as compensation,
there’s nothing wrong with that. So let’s have full
and adequate compensation.
Number six, land that
was covered by BIPPAs should not have been subject of the land reform
programme, the issue of BIPPAs. So that’s only land as the
Then I want to come to
agriculture. On agriculture there are a number of things that we
must do. The first one is yield management. This current situation
where the average yield in the communal lands for maize is now 77
kilograms when it used to be four tons per hectare, seven tons per
hectare is not on. So let’s have yield management so that
we can have yields of something like 12 to 15 tons of maize per
Number two is the research
and technology. We are being affected by global warming but there
are no monies that are being put into research and technology. Zanu-PF
is not interested in research and technology; Zanu-PF is not interested
in GMOs for instance everyone is feeding on GMOs. We need new breeds
of seeds for instance. When I grew up planting seeds started in
October, now it’s not the case so let’s have research,
Number three is extension
services. Our extension services have become dilapidated so let’s
deal with the issue of extension services.
Number four is the issue
of financing. This government is too small to adequately finance
agriculture. So what can substantially finance agriculture is the
commercial sector, is banks. So let’s be clear on that. Agriculture
is a business. So let’s have a business model in our farming
not this issue of seeing that even twenty years after the land reform
programme people are still called new farmers and they look to government
for subsidies. It’s not on.
Number seven let’s
define clearly the government subsidy policy. It’s important
for the poor and vulnerable sectors, are we subsidizing at input
level or are we subsidizing at market level, that must be made clear.
So let’s have a clear subsidy policy.
Number eight is marketing.
This issue that we have GMB as the buyer of first resort is not
on. Let’s have commodity exchanges where a person will know
that I’m going to sell my potatoes, my mbambaira it’s
Nine is value addition.
It pains me that we are exporting out our tobacco, we’re exporting
out our cotton. I live along Enterprise Road and I see women from
Mutoko everyday carrying tomatoes and vegetables, they are poor.
Let’s have a Budya Factory that will make tomato ketchup in
Mutoko. Value addition is very important.
Number ten let’s
have dams, let’s make agriculture a 365 business. This business
of agriculture that is seasonal, that depends on the rains alone
is not sustainable. So let’s have a 365, so let the infrastructure
of agriculture must be revolutionized. Electricity, roads because
they facilitate access to markets, those things are clear.
Then let’s have
a fertilizer policy, let’s have a fertilizer policy.
Gonda What happens to
multiple farm owners?
Biti Oh no, no, no,
no. The MDC policy is very clear. There should be number maximum
sizes of farms per region and one farm for every household. That
is very clear and part of that is that the MDC will introduce a
land tax, which will discourage people from hoarding land. We’re
very clear on that.
Gonda So you will take
away the farms from people who took multiple farms?
That’s very clear. We said that as way back as 2004
when we launched our Restart, that land must be distributed on the
basis of need and ability. Do you need the land and can you farm
it, and not the current situation where it’s accumulation
for the sake of accumulating and some people that I know have got
four farms and they are not using them.
I went to Kariba on Sunday
and all the way to Kariba I hardly saw any meaningful farming activity
on any farm. That’s not on, that’s not on. So it’s
from need to ability it’s very clear. Even the new constitution
speaks to the issue of one household for one farm and the issue
of maximum sizes of land per region, that’s key.
Gonda And what about
on the issue of land audit, is the MDC going to embark on a land
Biti That is clear.
Even the new constitution speaks of that. Even the GPA speaks of
on the issue of an audit. You need an audit to rationalize as how
else are you going to know who is a multiple owner other than through
an audit? How else are you going to know how many women own land
because genderising land is also important unless through an audit?
So an audit is inevitable as inevitable as it is desirable.
Gonda Because the Lands
Minister Herbert Murerwa recently told a committee in the senate
that the government will not conduct a comprehensive land audit
but that there will now be a land use audit.
Biti That’s a
different view of Zanu-PF and MDC. Zanu-PF wants to protect the
chefs who are holding onto land, which they are not using. I know
of one particular chef with eight farms, some in Mashonaland Central,
some in Mashonaland West so it’s not on.
Gonda That was the MDC-T
Secretary General and Finance Minister Tendai Biti. Thank you very
much for speaking to us on the programme Hot Seat.
Biti Alright, thank
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