By Robert Tapfumaneyi
MDC Alliance vice president and ex-finance minister Tendai Biti says government’s controversial closure of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has vindicated critics’ claims President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ‘Zimbabwe-is-open-for-business’ mantra was hot air.
Government recently took the drastic decision in desperate attempts to tame a volatile foreign exchange market that continued to propel prices of goods and services beyond the reach of many.
The unpopular government position also came with a ban on some functions of mobile money transfer systems.
Biti, also a lawyer, found this as ‘illegal’ and ‘irrational’.
He said these were signs Mnangagwa’s mantra was never genuine.
“It’s a desperate act by a desperate clueless government,” Biti said Saturday.
“The closure is illegal, there was no due process, it affects the capacity of Zimbabweans to raise much-needed capital, much-needed foreign direct investment.
“It’s irrational and it’s not connected to any economic objectivity other than the proof that ‘I can use force to do whatever I want’, which is typically everything done by illegitimate Emmerson Mnangagwa.”
Biti added, “It merely confirms that Zimbabwe was never open for business. It’s a confirmation of the destruction of the rule of law and human rights including property rights.
“Remember this move comes a few weeks after the government had banned the tradability of Old Mutual shares.
“So, in a globalised environment, you have the regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa trying to create an inward looking dictatorial regime. It doesn’t work and it won’t work.”
Biti, once hailed as a good finance minister during the inclusive government tenure, said an MDC administration would do better.
“Firstly, you know, don’t touch markets. By markets, I am not just talking about the stock exchange, I am also taking about social markets including women who sell tomatoes at markets, who as I am taking to you right now can’t sell their tomatoes.
“Including the young man who sell goats at the Mbudzi market, they can’t do that.
“The MDC Alliance government will recognise the importance of social markets as a platform for raising wealth, for raising capital for raising resources.
“We will have to protect them because our people find livelihoods in those markets and our central target is to protect livelihoods.”
Biti said the Zanu PF led administration has taken Zimbabweans back to the Stone Age.
“Emmerson has been an absolute disaster,” he said.
“After the demise of President Robert Mugabe, many of us Zimbabweans are actually shocked that things can be so dramatically bad and terrible. He has taken our country to where it was in 1923.
“We are in the era of Covid where 95% of Zimbabweans are not employed and of those 95%, 79% are living in extreme poverty, surviving on tsaona and four live off vegetables, a cork of cooking fat a little plate of meal mealie which you can’t find anywhere, you can’t find roller meal.
“Over and above that, this regime has failed to provide social safety nets to the working poor of Zimbabwe.
“So, the average black person in Zimbabwe dying of hunger is dying from anxiety from the actions of a cruel illegitimate regime, the regime of Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.”