Why Biti was criticized for ‘Zimbabwe is broke’ statement

Finance Minister Tendai Biti got into trouble for saying there was only US$217 in Zimbabwe’s coffers

Violet Gonda
8 February 2013

Last week Finance Minister Tendai Biti got into trouble for saying there was only US$217 in Zimbabwe’s coffers. Many observers questioned why there was so much criticism of the statement, when ZANU PF has also been saying the government is broke.

The reason was revealed on Thursday, when Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said Biti’s statements almost ruined Zimbabwe’s chances of hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly this year.
The state controlled media had described his ‘reckless’ comments as a serious ‘breach of confidentiality’, which exposed the nation.

The backlash resulted in Biti making a u-turn blaming ‘mischievous and malicious’ journalists who ‘quoted him out of context’ when he was merely trying to dramatise the point that government doesn’t have funds to finance the forthcoming referendum and elections.

Mzembi, who was in Spain last week for meetings with co-host Zambia and UNWTO officials, told reporters after a feedback meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, that Biti’s statements caused ‘anxiety’ and ‘despondency’ at the meeting.

“The Minister (Biti) announced that the country was reeling on the brink of bankruptcy with only US$217 in the account and the UNWTO team sought to understand how we could host a general assembly with just $217 in the account,” the minister said.

Critics say it would appear that ZANU PF is on a publicity and credibility blitz, trying to draw international events into the country, after years of isolation, and that is why ‘they panicked’ when Biti disclosed the country’s balance, even though he may have been joking about the exact amount.

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director, Pedzisai Ruhanya, told SW Radio Africa that ZANU PF wants to use the tourism symposium to ‘cleanse its bad image and to give an impression that there is law and order as Zimbabwe prepares for crucial elections.

Mzembi said he advised the United Nations officials to dismiss Biti’s statement as it could have been taken out of context. He said: “I can’t stand in his defense but I was just highlighting that going forward we should restrain ourselves on pronouncing issues that may cause despondency with other parties who are looking very keenly on us as a destination especially with regards to the hosting of the general assembly.”

Mzembi said that he had the director for budgets from the Ministry of Finance in his delegation, who helped to put Zimbabwe ‘back on track’ with the UN after he confirmed “independently as to the veracity of the false nature of the statement that had been issued by the minister.”

He said such negativity causes despondency as to whether Zimbabwe will be able to co-host the global event with Zambia in August.

However Ruhanya pointed out that ZANU PF wants to hide the facts that everybody knows – the country is bankrupt and is failing to pay its own workers in the civil service. He said Biti’s basic message was that the government is broke.

“I have a letter that was co-signed by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice, Mr. Chinamasa, in which they are asking the UNDP local representative to give them $250 million for the purposes of administering the election and the referendum.“We are even sub-contracting our sovereignty, so I don’t understand the panic!”

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is also set to host several other international events this year, including the International Conference on Information Technology for Africa this month and the 19th session of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in March.

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28 Responsesto “Why Biti was criticized for ‘Zimbabwe is broke’ statement”

  1. super mondo says:

    how much was the zim dollar worth in 1980…dont blame tendai

    • Zvakare says:

      Man! You can think that is a powerful thought and question!

    • GBZ says:

      Z$1 = US$1.25 methinks! We used to be a first world country, now we cannot claim 3rd world status, only “failed state” with failed MP’s, ministers and president….! We have the worst and most corrupt government and security administration that ever existed….ever! Havent they got a lot to be proud of?!!! Look on youtube for Dr James Manning…..mmmMMMMmmm.

      • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

        Of course, former Rhodesia was first world for rhodies who had everything at their disposal and not the the black people of this country who had nothing. You are living in your fantasy world and any black person who believes in the diatribes propagated by the so-called Dr James Manning needs to be examined in his/her heard. James Manning is a typical ‘House Negro’ who despises his own people, including President Obama of the United States. And any person who despises his own culture, people, tradition and way of life he was brought up by his/her parents as James Manning does, needs not to be taken seriously by any black man/woman.

        • Muktar Sayad says:

          If Rhodesia you say was for the whites a first world country, what say you for the blacks in Zimbabwe a” banana republic” At the time when Zimbabwe was being colonized the whites had their bibles and the blacks had all the virgin land. At independence the whites gave the blacks a developed country and the blacks got crazy and messed up to become a basket case

          • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

            It is all soar grapes mate. You thought you were the cleverest guys on mother earth but now you are crying like babies. You got what you deserve mate. I am sure in your lifetime with the lessons Mugabe taught the white folks in Zimbabwe, they will never abuse or manipulate other human beings again. I propose, it is a lesson to be passed even to your kids if you have any and to your future generations to never do it again for it will come back to haunt you.

          • Muktar Sayad says:

            I do not teach my kids to be manipulative nor have I inculcated into them any false perceptions, pretending that they are the cleverest humans on earth. My children hold very liberal views on racial equality they were never taught to judge a fellow human on his skin color Only sour grapes such as yourself will do worse injustice to your kids, teaching them that to hate people because they are white or brown and pretend that every such person is bad
            What lessons did Mugabe teach the white man, the land grab? Yes it grabbed the farms from them but it did not destroy their self esteem. They overcame many adversities before and have overcome each one of them. You are in my opinion a very tiny minority of black Zimbabweans who are hard core racists. All you do is spew hatred all day long an attitude that is fit for the garbage can.

          • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

            I do not believe for a minute that white children whose parents were born and bred during the rhodesia era can be open minded. I will be very surprised to see children whose parents considered themselves to be of superior breed to their black counterparts to have a liberal outlook.
            Remember the term ‘racism’ is not merely hating or disliking someone. It is a complex word that can not be defined in simplistic terms as no black man world over has ever practised racism but the white people. Racism is a group phenomenon that was designed by the white men to subjugate people they considered inferior for their economic gain or advantage. It has nothing to do with hatred or dislike of another human being. In other words if I do not like you, it does not mean I am racist. It is equally wrong to suggest I spew hatred all day. All I do is reacting to falsehoods and unfounded allegations propagated against my people and country. When that happens, I have an obligation to come to the defence of my country and its people.

          • Muktar Sayad says:

            If you are suggesting I am white you got it all wrong but even if I was, so what, not all whites are racists conversely nor are all blacks with you being the exception. I am not going to debate how black you are, its got nothing to do with me. Nor am I going to defend the idiotic assumptions you make it is all made from sheer stupidity and total ignorance
            Zimbabwe is as much MY country as it is yours and Zimbabweans are also my people even though I may not be black as you are. I am not a blind follower as you are of Zanu PF”s hate and backward thinking on a million and one issues.The country has not moved an inch since Ian Smith gave your black Zanu PF party a decent economic infrastructure to take advantage of. Instead what did your people do?, They turned the whole country up side down and you are proud of this fact, it shows how stupid you are.

          • TheVoiceOfReason says:

            Excellent perspective Muktar!! This guy has been totally brainwashed and is now an out and out racist. He absolutely cannot let himself see or believe the truth that lies directly in front of his eyes. His one great truth has always been that the whites (and any other color mind you) have subjugated, oppressed and economically disadvantaged the original inhabitants of this area. This is definitely true of the Colonial era, but what of the Mugabe era? Of course he has no answer because his ZPF paymasters would never allow it and he has to toe the party line – that it is to be blamed on the “Rhodies” at whatever cost (which includes absolutely everyone except black ZPF people – it even includes MDC black people who are now Rhodies by default!!) He is a ridiculous joke and epitomizes all that is wrong in Zim today.

            Chimbwido Warvet – please stop with the “my people” this and “my people” that and say what you mean – “my ZANY PF colleagues” – for you definitely do not speak for the true “people” of Zimbabwe who do not class themselves by the colour of their skin as you do.

            Let me offer a challenge – are you able to state what the literacy rate of this country was at independence compared to now? I bet you won’t/can’t due to the fact that the answer flies in the face of everything you have ever said or believe. And you would have to admit that at least one good thing came out of the Smith era. It is a shame because you appear to be a fairly well educated person, even for a “warvet”.

          • Chimbwidos Warvets says:



            You two guys are still drunk in racism in this 21st century but you have no idea of what racism is all about. Allow me to give you a bit of education as it appears to me you are ignorant of the history of the concept of racism.

            You need to know that that racism did not exist in my country until 1890 when the first white settlers arrived in my country. There were only group conflicts and cultural disagreements in my society but we never had racism until colonialism started. I therefore do not want you to continue calling me a racist because a black man like Chimbwidos Warvets can never be a racist. That word does not exist for Chimbwidos Warvets or any black man/woman for that matter. For your information the word racism denotes or means a group and as such is group based. It is a power relationship between two groups where one group owns and controls so much wealth and power it can use to deprive and injure another group.That is what racism means and at no place on earth can you find a black racist. At best what you find is a black reactionary who is found reacting to white racism. I therefore want the two of you to quit the idea of calling me a racist as what I am doing right now is reacting to white racism.

            You have never seen any blacks coming as a group to hurt anyone in the history of mankind but I can give you piles of evidence where the white man did all sorts of things to hurt other people they considered inferior.

            In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that no whites came to my country to help Zimbabwe and its people but were in pursuit of their economic interests, exploiting our mineral resources, hiring labour they never paid, introducing the doctrine of exclusion or racism where development of a people was based on their ethnic or racial origin. The doctrine was quite clear that the black people of this country were not to be allowed to enjoy the fruits of white society. To achieve
            this goal, laws were put in place in former Rhodesia to ensure blacks were subordinated, non-compensated for work done, were not to be competitive with their white counterparts in all facets of life and to remain the workforce for the personal
            comfort and glory of the white society. Nothing ever done by Ian Smith was good to the black people of this country but furthered the political and economic interests of the white people at our expense. Now let there be a closure to this debate. It is becoming monotonous talking of the same thing over and over again.

          • Muktar Sayad says:

            Pay careful attention to the good advice “TheVoiceOfReason” (below) offers you. Will it make any difference I doubt it. Its like spanking a donkey and expecting it to yield this is what you are you moron.

          • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

            Please pay attention to the voice of reason and rationality to the free lectures Chimbwidos Warvets has given to the two of you. You are still covered in your own poo and urine 33 years after Zimbabwe attained independence and sovereignty. Quite frankly, it is almost impossible to teach an old dog new tricks. In my Shona we say ‘chakabaya chikatyokera’ or literally once a rhodie you do not read things in any other perspective but rhodesian which has no place in this day and age. Once again, please stop patronising me for I strongly believe I am more educated and knowledgeable than the two of you.

          • Muktar Sayad says:

            When you say you are more educated good for you so are many of the buffoons in Zanu PF. Whose patronizing who? if only you had more sense you would realize you are extremely deficient in intellect. Suggest you go back to Border Gezi to get yourself retooled and then reemerge even more stupid.

          • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

            I said, ‘I firmly believe I am more educated and knowledgeable than the two of you’. Your statement above does not give a true reflection of what I said to you. I am, therefore, not about to let you put your words down my throat. Please read my earlier statement to you and note the difference to what you have just said, you cockroach. And where does the Border Gezi retooling exercise come into it?That mentality is certainly that of a rhodie who still lives in the glory of the past and who will never want to listen to his/her history that is littered with holes. Most of what I said truly reflects the past history of rhodies in my country which we all know is true and can not be wished away because it is well documented for scholars and academics like you to read and contemplate.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Zim dollar was equavelant to $1.25 American dollar in 1980. ZANU(PF) destroyed our currency because of its thievery. I support you .

  2. Citizen Kane says:

    Biti’s statements caused ‘anxiety’ and ‘despondency’ at the meeting. They should cause ‘anxiety’ and ‘despondency’ because Zimbabwe is a failed State and the corrupt people at the top could care less about their average citizens as they only care about lining thier pockets. Shame on Zimbabwe’s leaders. In fact, they shouldn’t be called leaders, they should be called thieves!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Biti`s statements were very right . ZANU(PF) should account for the Marange diamonds money . Where is our money Mpofu?

  4. Chimbwidos Warvets says:

    We were not born yesterday and stop patronising the Zimbabwean people. Corruption does not take place in a vacuum. The western world is the most vicious and corrupt world. They encourage and some even facilitate without equivocation the externalisation and banking of ill-gotten wealth in their countries. All crooks of the world are allowed to bank and carry out their banking transactions with the rest of the world at the Swiss National Bank and the rest of other national banks of the western world. And is characteristic of all crooks, they then turn around and accuse the stupid and foolish African leaders for corruption. The so-called economic success of the western world is based on corrupting the minds of our foolish and ignorant leaders who think of themselves rather than the nation they lead.
    No one can be a successfully waltz dancer without a partner. And yet when they accept the ill-gotten wealth from our foolish leaders, our money is used by the western world capitalists to oil their economies at our expense while the European crooks hide behind a secret curtain. This has been their game of exploiting and manipulating the African people when slavery was ‘abolished’ and African countries became sovereign and independent states. And yet these European crooks are quick at criticising African leaders but will never allow the publication in their books of accounts, how much money has been deposit in their banks by our foolish and stupid African leaders. It has always been a well known game that only involves our foolish leaders while behind the secret veil, European/American crooks will be laughing all the way to their banks. It is that straightforward.

    • observer says:

      people are fed up with your farts on here.grow up

      • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

        This is an empty statement mate. If you have ‘issues’ or dispute what has been said by Chimbwidos, by all means argue your case and give us facts. Which people are these and what is meant by growing up when one speaks the truth and his mind? As a matter of principle, I will not listen to this crap as I have no obligation to you in telling you what you want to hear, but what my audience wants to. This is typical of Mr Buffoon.

    • Yepec says:

      It is agreed that the capitalist societies are permissive in social and business undertakings, hence, brats and individual business behaviour. Brats are found in families of all societies but business individuals are characteristically of the capitalist societies. In short, it is in the capitalist societies that by law, individuals are allowed to take advantage of other members the society, especially, in the business world – Direct Foreign Investments, i.e, flows of money outside one’s country.

      The historical, corrupt and criminal behaviour is banned in each capitalist country. In taxes, these countries are lenient to the rich and in some cases the money is hidden in tax heavens of which the biggest and prominent country is Switzerland.However, stealing, corruption, looting common assets, criminal gangsterism, laundering of money from the ill gotten riches are banned by law.

      The accounts of Central Banks do not have personal or individual assets, therefore, they are not family oriented but country. Personal corruption in the Underdeveloped Countries spreads because the people in leadership positions take the family and business individual behavior or entity in the capitalist societies as one and imitate that type behaviour. Actually, Underdeveloped Countries can set up a better standard of behaviour than imitating everything from the capitalist countries.

      In the final analysis, let them come and see how we behave ordinarily or in our countries in regards to elections, so that they can compare as to the best type of elections to follow

    • Youzak Hunt says:

      I can’t see what your (repetitive) outburst has to do with this news story?

      I think you also forget that many of your fearless leaders, from RGM down have availed themselves of these Swiss Bank accounts to externalize their ill-gotten wealth. The good news is that in the not too distant future, this will be repatriated and taken back from the thieves…

      And being in the UK you are clearly obvious to the press, did you miss the MP’s being fired for fraudulent expense claims, taking bribes for campaigns etc.; UK/EU is generally VERY accountable for ill-gotten wealth…. because they don’t control the Police in the way ZPF does

      • Chimbwidos Warvets says:

        My earlier response to you has not been published because it was considered too deadly by SW Radio Africa. I will try to be as gentle as possible in case this one falls in the same trap.

        I humbly submit once again that corruption does not exist in a vacuum. It is only possible when there are two parties with a common intention and willing to engage in it without which it would be almost impossible for people to engage in these underhand activities.

        It is common knowledge that the Swiss bank and a host of other banks in the western world have been involved or abated foreign government leaders particularly in Africa to deposit their ill-gotten wealth in their banks. The late Mobuto Seso Seko of the former Zaire now the DRC and a good number of former Nigerian influential political figures to name just a few, were encouraged/permitted/allowed to deposit their ill-gotten wealth in many banks of the world which are very well known, including the Swiss bank.

        It is a good idea to nib corruption in the bud but the process should start from the foreign banks themselves right through to Zimbabwe if this is to be a resounding success. There should be no sacred cows if this is to be successful. The crooks who are hiding in their secret veil at the Swiss bank and many banks of the world who are involved in these underhand activities should simply be investigated and prosecuted if we are to nib corruption in the bud. Otherwise it will be a useless pursuit if we let criminals in Europe roam the streets of their capital cities while only thieves in Zimbabwe are arrested and prosecuted.

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