FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti yesterday said electoral violence was Zimbabwe’s biggest crisis which threatened to undo the country’s economic restoration and political gains.
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
The MDC-T secretary-general said Zimbabwe had never enjoyed even 10 years of peace since independence 32 years ago because of political violence and the accompanying economic hardships.
Unless action was taken to deal with the violence, he said, Zimbabwe could easily slide back to the forgettable dark political and economic past.
Biti was addressing delegates at the Government Work Programme (GWP), a programme superintended by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai where ministers report back during the Council of Ministers’ weekly meetings on progress in their respective ministries on agreed work programmes, in Harare.
“We have no money but we have to score. Our fear is not economic, not water because we are used to not having water, not food because we are used to that. Our fears are elections. We appeal to government leaders, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe to ensure peace,” Biti said.
“If there is violence we will lose all this. This country has been at war since 1890 and there were no 10 years of peace since then. The referendum and elections should be free. It must happen one day and people forget that they voted.”
Biti said the last few years had shown that Zimbabweans could work together. He implored political party supporters to respect their leaders who “have pancakes together every Monday”.
Explaining the intention to go begging for money to run elections, Biti said there was nothing sinister about that as it would not take away the people’s freedom to vote for whoever they wanted.
“On elections, we need assistance. The international donor community has supported us in many instances including (the recent) census exercise and their involvement will not mean they will affect the right of the people to choose,” Biti said.
He said the 2013 budget would be the most difficult considering the people’s high expectations ahead of the polls.
“We have gone throughout the country and for some reason, our people think government can do everything and anything. They have huge expectations but the cake is very small,” Biti said.
“We have to prioritise. We can’t continue acting as if it’s business as usual. There are certain important things and one of them is fiscal discipline. Eating what we kill. In 2013, we are eating into the future because of the arrears we have carried through.”
Biti said government’s failure to provide basic needs like water, shelter, food and critical infrastructure such as roads was tantamount to spearheading a “soft genocide”.
“What is happening is a soft genocide with a government failing to provide basics, housing, water and roads. I was in Nyanga and there is a road known as Bhinya Road. The road is still in the same state as Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi left it,” he said.