We made a mistake to trust Mugabe – Biti

WE mustn’t make the mistake of trusting anyone again; we should build a new Zimbabwe on the basis of mistrust, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Tendai Biti has cautioned.

And Biti, the president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and current chairman of the coalition for democrats in Zimbabwe, says a man without a job has no dignity.

Biti told the BBC Focus on Africa programme last evening that Zimbabweans have to “vaccinate” themselves against possible treachery by leaders by putting their faith in strong institutions of governance, unlike in individuals.

“Our problem in the past is that we trusted individuals and we trusted President [Robert] Mugabe so much. We mustn’t make the mistake of trusting anyone again; we should build a new Zimbabwe on the basis of mistrust because when we do that, we then vaccinate ourselves against potential betrayal. So, we must put our faith in constitutions, in strong institutions, in the rule of law and in a collective team of Zimbabweans to move us forward,” Biti said when asked on whether or not he trusted that country’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa to diligently manage the economy.

On whether fallen Mugabe and his wife, Grace, should be immune from prosecution for their misrule, Biti, who is a lawyer, indicated that bygones were bygones.

“I don’t think that we can afford the past to imprison the future; let’s move on with this opportunity of reclaiming our country, reclaiming the Zimbabwean dream. What happened in the past happened – let’s move on,” Biti said.

Reminded about his imprisonment, torture, revocation of his passport as well as surrendering his house’s title deed and whether or not he could still forgive Mugabe for the pain, Biti responded: “I spent a couple of months in prison [but] Nelson Mandela spent 27 years and he forgave. [So], who am I? We have to forgive the past in order to liberate the future.”

Meanwhile, Biti, who served in Mugabe’s and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) coalition government as a Minister of Finance from February, 2009 to September, 2013, agreed with the suggestion of the IMF that Zimbabwe had to move quickly to “dig” itself out of its huge debt.

“The IMF is right about the fact that we need a plan as a matter of urgency. But yes, it is important that we restore people’s livelihoods, we give jobs to our people [because] 95 per cent of our people are unemployed and a man without a job is a man without dignity. The indigenisation empowerment needs to be repealed right now. We need to attract foreign direct investment,” noted Biti.

Following Mugabe’s resignation as President on November 21, former Vice-President Mnangagwa replaced the 93-year-old self-styled pan-Africanist and will be sworn-in today in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

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