OPPOSITION MDC Renewal Team secretary general, Tendai Biti has hit out at the government’s handling of the economy, quipping that Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has been reduced to a wages clerk because the administration has run out of ideas.

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The government is essentially broke and failing to stem the country’s economic slide with the ruling Zanu PF party at war over the succession of its soon-to-be 91 year old leader.

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Biti, finance minister in the last coalition government which is credited with helping end the country’s hyper-inflation mayhem, was addressing a SAPES Trust dialogue on the economy in Harare Thursday.

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“The Minister of Finance should actually be called a wages clerk because his only duty now is to pay wages to the civil servants,” he said.

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Chanamasa has over the last year been struggling to pay civil service wages which he recently revealed take up more than 85 percent of State revenues.

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The treasury chief also admitted that the civil service establishment had increased to half a million workers with the government under increasing pressure to retrench as the economy struggles.

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Biti, who was praised for his handling of the economy as finance minister, attacked the Zanu PF government for failing to live within its limited means.

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“We have an economic and leadership crisis, structural deficiency and an inefficient government,” he said.

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“There is no production in the industrial sites and massive job losses. This is the return of depression.

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“Yet the government has departed from the elementary rule of you eat what you kill.  But the Zanu PF government is behaving as if it has killed an elephant yet it has killed a rat.”

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Lamenting the fact that the last anti-President Robert Mugabe demonstration was staged in neighbouring Zambia, Biti challenged Zimbabweans to take on the Zanu PF regime.

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“The people of Zimbabwe should stand up and not outsource the struggle,” he said.

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“The last time we had a demonstration against Robert Mugabe was in Zambia. Let us stop pointing fingers and organise ourselves in a smart manner. We need to know what our alternative on the economy is.

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“We need to have a clear position on what we are saying about electoral reforms because we cannot go into the 2018 election without genuine reforms. We need to have a clear policy on social delivery.”

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Opposition forces also need to work together if the pro-democracy struggle is to be successful.

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Biti was secretary general of the MDC-T, the country’s main opposition party which has since fractured after it was crushed by Mugabe and Zanu PF in the 2013 elections.

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The former finance minister and a number of top leaders disgruntled with Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership and his refusal to step down have since left the party to form the rival MDC Renewal Team.

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“The question is what are we doing and we must stop outsourcing this struggle to anyone. We must be united by one thing, that the catastrophe is Zanu PF and its legacy of 35 years,” he said.

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“We need to rethink, introspect and accept the missed opportunities.  We need a national convention where we sit down as citizens, as the oppressed people of Zimbabwe and locate the national crisis.

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“Let’s form a coalition of democrats, unite on the issue of rates boycotts and not participating in elections without genuine reforms.

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“We need to have an alternative blueprint and form a coalition on the realignment of the national Constitution.  Every citizen should occupy their space.”

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Although the country’s prospects looked dire under Zanu PF rule, Biti said he remained optimistic.

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“I refuse to be pessimistic.  I refuse to be fatalistic as it is very dangerous and will lead to the manifestation of chaos,” he said. – newzim