News

    Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Pleads For Outside Help

    Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti called for what he called "strategic engagement" from countries like the United States to help his country both economically and politically.
    Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti called for what he called "strategic engagement" from countries like the United States to help his country both economically and politically.
    Nico Colombant

    Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Tendai Biti, says his country has a mixed record in terms of economic policies during a three-year power-sharing unity government. He also warns there has been no progress in terms of preparing better elections, which in the past have been marred by widespread violence and fraud.

    At the Atlantic Council think tank Thursday, Biti, pleaded for outside help, both in terms of improving electoral conditions before it is too late, and in helping Zimbabwe’s economy.

    Economic successes he outlined included dropping the Zimbabwean dollar as the official currency, which helped tame massive hyperinflation, and removing previous government restrictions such as price controls.

    "The biggest thing which we did was to restore trust in the market, because we have been predictable, we have been consistent, and I have said if there is anyone who is going to push me to carry out a measure that I do not agree with, if anyone is going to force me to retain the Zimbabwean dollar, I will quit and go back to my law firm," Biti said.

    A current power struggle concerns so-called indigenization policies, pushed forward by Zimbabwe’s black empowerment ministry.  

    Black Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, from President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, said earlier this month the government had taken majority ownership of all foreign-owned mining companies. But his claim was immediately disputed by Mugabe’s political rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

    The prime minister is the head of the Movement for Democratic Change, of which Biti is the secretary-general.

    Biti said that while he understood the aim of indigenization and what he called "resource nationalism," in order to give citizens sustainable access to the wealth of their country, he called its implementation in Zimbabwe a "disaster."

    "You are just transferring shares from a few rich, white people, to a few rich, black people so it is not democratization. It is just elite transfer. So it was not well thought out. And the true due process is not sufficiently being followed, so I think it is a program that we need to go back to the drawing board and then say genuinely how can we empower people," Biti said.

    He listed other challenges including massive debt, very little foreign direct investment and much lower diamond-mining revenues than the government was expecting.

    In terms of politics, Biti warned that if the current opportunity for successful elections is not met, any economic progress Zimbabwe has made could be erased.

    Elections are expected by next year, but 88-year-old President Mugabe, in power for more than three decades and once again a candidate, has said he wants to hold them as soon as possible.

    Biti had harsh words for President Mugabe.

    "If you have a party that is placing its hopes in somebody who is 88 years old, I think there is something wrong with that. If you are 88 years, you belong to a people’s home, you belong to a wheelchair. To place the fate of a country to an 88-year-old, with great respect, I am not a member of ZANU-PF, but with great respect, it is an insult to present generations. We need renewal in Zimbabwe,” Biti said.

    Mugabe has said he is still leading Zimbabwe to correct wrongs from the brutal colonial past of what was then white-minority rule Rhodesia.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mutetwa
    April 22, 2012 4:39 AM
    The MDC rhetoric has become quite confusing, The GNU was formed to map out a new constitution and reshape the electoral voting system to pave the way for free and fair elections A.S.A.P. However Four years later nothing on the table!!!! and you expect us to believe anything BITI and MORGAN say !!! Both MEN have has passed their sell-by date.

    by: Obi Ifeanyi
    April 21, 2012 2:51 AM
    President Mugabe has no future 4 Zimbabwe, he shoud step dawn for d youth who has vision for the country because the strenght of a nation is their youth. No nation can develop economically, politically and socially were the old men are in power.

    by: fraser
    April 19, 2012 7:51 PM
    Rightly said Biti there is a sinister motive in Zanu pf which is likely meant to perpetuate their rule.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.