Biti’s new US ally, whither Chamisa?

27 Aug, 2019 - 00:08 0 Views
Biti’s new US ally, whither Chamisa? Nelson Chamisa (right) and Tendai Biti

The Herald

Tatenda Gono Correspondent
Opposition MDC-Alliance co-vice president, Tendai Biti, has on several times, been embroiled in controversies that have been working against Zimbabwe’s national interests in futile attempts to get into power through the back door.

There have been numerous pieces written on his contribution towards the fall of the economy during his tenure as Finance Minister, during the Government of National Unity (2009-2013). In 2001, Biti and other MDC officials, travelled to the United States of America where they unanimously called for sanctions against Zimbabwe, disregarding the heinous effects these have on the ordinary Zimbabwean men and women.

It is not a secret that sanctions have brought untold suffering to Zimbabweans, through lack of balance of payment support, withdrawal of lines of credit for international trade as well as inability to make international transactions, necessary to bring in various materials needed to oil the economy towards opulence.

No wonder Dr Drian Kashkongo from the University of Namibia recently rapped the MDC-A over the sanctions opining “You cannot get into power through the suffering of the ordinary masses. You call for sanctions which ordinarily do not directly affect your targeted political foes. The sanctions hurt the ordinary person on the streets and I wonder if the sanctions advocates want to rule over dead bodies”.

The sanctions also blocked the country’s access to international markets for its horticultural, sugar and beef products particularly in the European Union market. More often than not flowers were rejected in Holland despite being of high quality.

After the 2018 harmonised elections, where ZANU-PF trounced the MDC, Biti and cohorts could not stomach it. Biti in his frustration went on to pledge that Zimbabwe would continue failing to access lines of credit saying, “we will make sure they (ZANU-PF) don’t get a cent. I can’t tell you how, but I can tell you we have done it before.” Indeed, Zimbabwe has not forgotten that MDC once called for sanctions in 2001 and to be more precise Biti is alleged to be one of the draft architects of ZIDERA.

Not surprising, considering that the US once came out in full support of Biti, referring to him as “a friend.” When the US said this, Biti was then facing charges of inciting post-election violence that took place on 1 August 2018, as well as violating the electoral laws by illegally announcing results of the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections.

Senator Jeff Flake, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations sub-committee on Africa, said, “Tendai Biti is a friend of this Committee and he’s been here a number of times, and I was pleased to see that you had that among your list of things they could do  . . .” The irony of having Senator Flake calling Biti a friend is that he is behind the passing of the infamous Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZIDERA) which has brought untold suffering on Zimbabweans.

Flake also sits on the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and by sounding allegiance to Biti, shows proof that the West would rather listen to Biti, their friend, than any alternative voice that would likely come out of Zimbabwe, regardless how objective that voice is.

It is under the same Foreign Relations that Biti has his articles published, a clear indication that anything that attacks Zimbabwe’s policies is given prominence in efforts to sway opinion.

Prior to the MDC Congress in June 2019, Biti was given U$50 000 to use for his campaigns, a solid amount that he happily pocketed and made sure that neither MDC as a party or Chamisa had access to it.

To show that the US has a soft spot for Biti and has been grooming him for a higher post, in 2015, he was given a fellowship at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC where he was billed to stay for about 9 months. Biti also joined the Centre for Global Development (CGD) in the United States as a visiting fellow. CGD is an independent think-tank that works to reduce global poverty and inequality. Because of this exposure, Biti is being groomed for the MDC presidency.

CGD posted on its website then that, “Biti is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development. While at CGD, he will be working on issues around fragile states, debt management, re-engagement with the international financial institutions and economic recovery.” These are the issues that Biti has ever since been writing about, hence his perceived understanding of monetary and economic issues better than Chamisa.

Recent developments in Zimbabwe have gone on to prove that Biti, as promised back then, is doing anything and everything possible to make sure that Zimbabwe remains under sanctions and the West has made him their favourite, over his leader, Nelson Chamisa. On several occasions, Chamisa has been denied visa to the US, and instead Biti has been the figurehead that the US prefer to associate with.

Biti, by virtue of being in Parliament and representing Harare East Constituency, is taking the chance to exploit the opportunity and outdo Chamisa as the leader of the opposition party. With the seemingly unwavering support from the US, Biti, subtly, but unrelentingly, is seizing the opportunity by the horns.

Already, work on the ground has started, in efforts to prop up Biti and sell him as MDC’s ideal candidate ahead of the 2023 elections. Part of the team behind these machinations; involve MDC’s National Deputy Chairman, Job Sikhala. In MDC inner circles, it is known that Sikhala is aligned to Biti’s faction, and they have decided to take the confrontational approach in dealing with Government, with the support of the US.

Recently, US officials led by US Ambassador Brian Nichols, though under the shadows, visited Sikhala at his Chitungwiza residence. Part of the agenda was to strategise on how best to position Biti, without directly challenging Chamisa and losing the electorate along the way. This comes at the backdrop that Chamisa is a more popular face in the MDC and it will prove to be an uphill task to replace him with Biti, or any likely candidate.

Given the said circumstances, it is only a matter of time before Chamisa also faces open contest from Biti, as internal wars continue to gain momentum. However, the MDC will have an arduous task of selling Biti to the electorate, who is on record for calling for sanctions that have contributed to the ordinary person’s daily challenges.

Under any given situation, Zimbabweans would not rally behind Western puppets they know are only bent on effecting regime change agenda.

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