Friday, June 03, 2011

(TALKZIMBABWE) Biti frustrating govt efforts: President Mugabe

Biti frustrating govt efforts: President Mugabe
Posted by By Our reporter at 2 June, at 21 : 07 PM

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has criticised finance minister Tendai Biti, from the MDC-T party, for frustrating people-centred programmes and trying to usurp presidential powers. This is the first time the president has spoken on underhand tactics played by the finance minister.

The president said elections should be held this year or early next year to terminate the inclusive Government because the likes of Biti are frustrating government efforts that are aimed at benefiting the poor and empowering indigenous Zimbabweans.

President Mugabe was addressing chiefs from Manicaland yesterday at the start of his nationwide tour to meet traditional leaders.

“The man we tasked with the country’s money affairs has no appreciation of the struggle we went through,” said President Mugabe.

“To him and some of his colleagues, agriculture is not an important area because they think that if they finance this sector, they will be strengthening Zanu-PF.

“They do not want to see the economy prospering. We got US$500 million from the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights and we do not know what the money is being used for.

“He told us that it is being kept for strategic reserves and we understand that only half of it has been used so far, yet the factories are closing down.

“Mutare is better than Bulawayo where 10 factories were closed, while 75 are almost closing. Some of the companies need small amounts ranging from US$500 000 to US$2 million, yet Biti is continuing to give empty promises.

“Biti is even trying to grab some of the Presidential powers in various ways. We now want this Global Political Agreement to go and this should happen this year.

“If we fail, then elections should be held during the first few months of next year. What we want are elections this year,” he said.

President Mugabe said the Government would continue improving the welfare of chiefs and provide food aid to the vulnerable, whom Biti is not currently focussing on.

“We were even proposing to pay chiefs salaries, but some people argued that they will be more like civil servants, which is a philosophical argument which means nothing.

“We can give them good salaries and they will still remain chiefs. We will ensure that they have decent homesteads so that their subjects will not look down upon them. The electrification of their homes is an ongoing programme.

“I was thinking that all the chiefs now have cars and those still to get them we will ensure that something is done. We will replace old and battered cars,” he said.

The president reminded the chiefs that they were the custodians of the land and should guard it jealously.

“We are the sovereign owners of not only the land, but all resources of this country. We must defend our land and protect our resources.”

President Mugabe said Government would ensure that all vulnerable families will receive free food handouts while those who can buy maize will have the staple food transported to their areas.

He said the introduction of the multiple currencies in the local economy was having a telling effect on some rural households that have no means of getting the money.

President Mugabe said despite the scarcity of the dollars, no-one would starve because measures were being put in place to ensure that those without access to money get the maize for free.

“When we dollarized the economy, we wanted to fight the spiraling inflation. We are the ones who mooted the dollarisation of the economy well before the inclusive Government through the then acting Minister of Finance, Cde Patrick Chinamasa.

“We are aware that our people are having difficulties in accessing the dollars in the rural areas, yet they also want to buy grain. Some of them are selling their livestock for a song because they want to survive,” said President Mugabe.

The President donated computers to 20 schools in Manicaland province.

Speaking at the same occasion, the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Dr Ignatius Chombo, called for the review of the chiefs’ allowances which were reviewed once since the dollarisation of the economy.

He said chiefs were getting $200 instead of the $300 they had agreed to pay them with Mr Biti.

“There are also delays in disbursing the chiefs’ allowances from the Ministry of Finance. It appears as if this ministry does not respect the institutions of the chiefs because their allowances are the last to be disbursed,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by the Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, Women’s League chairperson, Oppah Muchinguri, the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, and other Zanu-PF party officials.

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