I READ with interest Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Tendai Biti’s opinion piece in last week’s issue of the Zimbabwe Independent in which he was lamenting the decay in our education system.
It was a great article in which Biti well articulated the spectacular collapse of our education system which was once the pride of Africa.
But there are certain issues which cannot go unchallenged in his article which left me wondering whether the MP and founder member of the opposition is still in the struggle to bring democracy to Zimbabwe or does he just want to settle personal scores?
I say so because in the process of chronicling the collapse of the education system and attributing it to Zanu PF, Biti suddenly changed direction and started attacking Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
Not that Gono should not be criticised but for Biti to go to an extent of saying the RBZ governor had done more harm to this country than 28 years of President Robert Mugabe’s rule is misdirected from a person who knows better. Â
I am an MDC supporter who is desperate for change but some of us get worried when our top leaders lose direction in the fight for democracy the way Biti did last week.
We are talking here of Biti, the second most powerful man in the MDC and one of the pillars of strength in the opposition who is suddenly losing the plot to an extent of making Gono the main stumbling block towards attainment of democracy in the country instead of Mugabe. Are we not losing the plot here?
Biti is educated and he knows the truth and is just trying to divert us from the real issues. Surely in a normal situation Biti cannot be foolish enough to blame Gono for the collapse of the education sector and the economic problems in the country. Biti is intelligent enough to know that the solution to our problems is to make sure Mugabe goes.
I am not here to defend Gono. Like any other human being Gono has his mistakes and he can be criticised. There are many things we can criticise Gono for but will that bring democracy and freedom to Zimbabwe? It is important to remind Biti of the struggle for democracy on which we should focus.
To me, Biti is either ignorant of who the real enemy of the MDC is or he is so excited about looming power that he is now being economic with the truth. Biti is certainly not a fool. He knows the truth. He knows if everything is to work in the country, Mugabe has to be out of power — not Gono. He probably realises that soon, President Mugabe will be his boss and he can’t attack him so he looks for a “soft” target to unleash his anger on.
Or maybe it was an indirect attack on Mugabe through a defenceless Gono. The point here is simple and straight forward — removing Gono from the position of governor will not solve anything as long as Mugabe is still president of the country.
Surely, can we be made to believe that if Gono is fired as Biti wants, the education system will suddenly come back to where it was in the 80s? Are we to believe that if Gono is removed, inflation will come down to a single digit? Are we to believe that if the best economist comes to Zimbabwe today and takes over at RBZ under the current political arrangement the economy will prosper? I disagree.
Biti is now a seasoned politician and he must learn to keep his eyes on the ball. We are now wondering why Biti is going astray and is running away from the truth? What I am going to do is give Biti free advice otherwise we will never have democracy in this country as long as powerful members of the opposition fail to identify their main target. To be frank, even if Biti himself becomes the central bank boss tomorrow, this economy will not change for the better as long as we have the same political situation in the country.
It surely does not need a rocket scientist to tell you that this country has a political problem and needs a political solution. Even a layman in the street will tell you that and I wonder why Biti, educated as he is, fails to understand the simple economics we are faced with.
The power-sharing deal which Biti himself helped structure is one good example which clearly shows that if power is removed from Mugabe, not Gono, the economy will improve. When Thabo Mbeki announced on September 11 that a deal had been sealed, parallel market rates tumbled dramatically but when the principals to the deal started arguing over the allocation of ministries, chaos returned to the market. What this means is that the market thought Mugabe had finally lost grip on power and so normal economics would resume but they were wrong. The market thought Tsvangirai would be in charge with Mugabe taking a back seat and this gave hope to this great nation. The rates went down even if Gono was still the central bank governor.
Biti will also be the first to admit that each time there was a rumour that the deal was close to being signed parallel market rates which partly drive inflation would remain steady only to shoot up on news that actually there was no agreement.
The other day we saw leaflets and pamphlets worth billions of dollars being distributed attacking Gono but wait a minute. Why not have the same leaflets attacking Mugabe? As we sit in the opposition we are wrongfully enjoying the suffering and abuse on hapless people like Gono while the real culprits are sitting at home and laughing at us.
Â Perhaps Gono’s weakness or is it strength has been to take all the blame even for things with nothing to do with him and so he exposes himself to attacks from easily excited people like Biti. I suspect Mugabe is playing a tactical political game of making sure the opposition concentrate on attacking people who have nothing to do with the collapse of the economy. After all Biti conveniently forgets that when Gono joined the RBZ in 2003, the economy had already started a free fall because of Mugabe’s policies.
If the Minister of Finance comes today and demands money for such and such a project, Gono will obviously follow orders but when people like Biti come on board firing from all angles, the central bank governor takes the vicious blows as he would obviously be protecting his bosses.Â Â
This has been the problem with us in the opposition for a long time.Â We are misguided in choosing targets and our tactics because we easily get excited with useless agendas. We are easily diverted and outmanoeuvred by veteran politicians like Mugabe and surely we expect better from people like Biti.
We can blame Ignatious Chombo for meddling in council affairs, tomorrow we blame Joseph Made for the mess in our agriculture, the next day we blame David Parirenyatwa for the collapse of the health delivery system and next week we blame Francis Nhema for the decline in tourist arrivals.
Yes, let’s blame them to a certain extent but surely we all know that all these are not to blame for the economic quagmire we are in. We go on top of the mountain and shout abuse at everyone but as long as we don’t attack Mugabe then people tend to doubt whether our agenda is still to bring democracy to this country or we are interested in other things.
The big player in this game is Mugabe. If Mugabe goes today, there will be a huge influx of tourists to the country the next day, the IMF will pour in money into Zimbabwe and the rates will go down. We will have our medicine in hospitals, we will get foreign investment whether Made, Gono, Chombo, Nhema or Parirenyatwa are still in charge of their various portfolios or not.
What all this means is that while we are attacking the Gonos and the Chombos of this world, we forget about the main target and why we are in this struggle. For Zanu PF and Mugabe in particular this strategy has worked for many years and today it seems like Biti, who is supposed to be in charge of the struggle has been blinded by his passion to attack people like Gono who, whether they go or not, the crisis in Zimbabwe will remain with us. Â
Biti, let’s keep our eyes on the ball and the ball is Mugabe and Mugabe alone.
l Takaendesa is an MDC supporter and can be contacted on email@example.com