By Robert Tapfumaneyi
FORMER Finance Minister Tendai Biti, has sensationally claimed that regional power bloc Sadc, occasionally provides Heads of State with “temporary First Ladies” at summits where they would not have travelled with their wives.
Biti was addressing students at the British Council in Harare last week, at which he gave a brief on his days in the Government of National Unity (GNU). The MDC vice national chairman said he was in the process of writing a book on his experiences between 2009 and 2013.
“I was embarrassed. I will tell you my embarrassment, on the 29th March 2009, there was an extra-ordinary meeting that was called on Zimbabwe, at Lozita Palace in Swaziland,” Biti told the students Thursday night.
“That’s when I discovered that these Heads of State are very naughty. None of them had brought a wife. I asked but where are the First Ladies?Then I was told there are temporary provided. You should see why I have to complete my book. I have done 75 000 words on my experiences in the GNU because and there are a lot of these amazing things.”
Biti added, that he was of the belief that he had been set up to fail, when he took over as Treasury chief in 2009.
“I will tell you a story that happened to me during my four and half year stay in the inclusive government. I started work on the 16th February 2009, there was no one to welcome me at the Ministry of Finance and people were peeping from corridors, saying here comes a monster.
“And after greetings with the permanent secretary Willard Manungo and Pfungwa Kunaka, the latter told me it was government workers needed to be paid the following day. I asked how much we needed and the answers was US$30 million dollars,” the former Finance Minister said.
“I also asked how much we had in the bank and to my shock government only had US$4 million and I was supposed to perform some miracle so we could raise the remaining US$26 million in a day.”
Biti added: “And I realised from that day that I had been set up for failure. I went to my office and held a Bible and said God you can’t bring me from my thriving law firm to fail here.
“I actually prayed. So that very same Monday we started working on what became known as the Short Term Recovery Programme (Step) and we finished it in two weeks.”
Biti is credited with stabilising Zimbabwe’s economy during his tenure as head of Treasury.