By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
25 February 2014
Ex-Finance Minister and senior MDC-T official Tendai Biti’s house was petrol bombed by unknown assailants in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Biti was at the house during the attack, together with at least 9 family members who were all asleep. Borrowdale police are said to be investigating.
“I have no problem with someone petrol-bombing my car or myself but to target my family is unfair,” the former minister told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday.
This is second time that arsonists have thrown a bomb at Biti’s house, following another similar attack in 2011.
In the latest incident the explosive device, made from a beer bottle, damaged the perimeter wall and part of the electric fence. A security guard at the property discovered the damage.
Biti admitted that the attack had shaken him, but added: “I am feeling low but I will not allow myself to be broken but will look the beast in the face and carry on with the struggle for democracy.”
The senior politician was recently attacked by MDC-T youths amid serious infighting and a simmering leadership debate within the Tsvangirai-led party.
Biti however downplayed the link between the two incidents of violence directed at him.
“As a lawyer I will not rush to make accusations. But from what I gather the police do have some evidence to help them in their investigations, and I hope the culprits will be arrested soon.”
He said he had discussed the issue of violence with Tsvangirai, with both agreeing “on the need to normalise the situation in the party so that opponents of our struggle don’t take advantage”.
The MDC-T has unsuccessfully tried to distance itself from the thugs that attacked senior officials Biti, Elton Mangoma and Promise Mkwananzi, on February 15th accusing them of trying to oust Tsvangirai.
Political commentator Ndaba Nhuku said the MDC-T had made itself vulnerable by failing to stem the intra-party violence and this has given ZANU PF enough ammunition to go after them.
“I will not be shocked if the insinuation by the state media, linking Biti to the National Social Security Association (NSSA) scandal, is part of ZANU PF’s plan to use the infighting and destroy the MDC-T leadership,” Nhuku said.
The Herald newspaper said Tuesday that the ex-Finance Minister “allegedly abused his position to direct NSSA to sink $20 million into troubled Capital Bank (then Renaissance Merchant Bank) despite indications that the project was not viable.”
The newspaper based its claims on a presentation made by NSSA general manager James Matiza before a panel of parliamentarians on Monday.
According to the report, Matiza said they had turned away two attempts by the bank to get the authority to invest but finally did so after Biti directed them to.
However, former board chairman Innocent Chagonda told the same paper that Biti’s letter did not influence the $30 million investment decision that the authority made.
“We did not go into Renaissance Merchant Bank pursuant to that letter. We went there after we were satisfied that it was a viable project after we received a presentation from (Mr) Regis Saruchera, the curator,” Chagonda told the Herald.
Biti denies exerting any influence, saying the authority invested in Renaissance because this meant they would gain access to lucrative shares in one of the country’s biggest property developers Afre (now First Mutual Life).
“That story is malicious, stupid, and wrongful and I am taking legal action against the Herald newspaper and the NSSA general manager (Matiza) for defamation, Biti told SW Radio Africa Tuesday.