Security controlling the gates at the complex had a torrid time dealing with the boisterous war veterans, who refused to leave the Finance ministry headquarters, breaking into independence war songs and vowing to show Biti that they liberated the country. Biti watched the war veterans fron his 6th floor office briefly, before retreating into his office. The war veterans literally "besieged" the Finance ministry offices all day.
The incident is the most serious affront to Biti since he became Finance minister two years ago. It is just the latest incident to blight the the GNU in Zimbabwe, where rights groups accuse President Mugabe of using military and police to arrest a cabinet minister and lawmakers, to intimidate civil society and to jail journalists.
The notorious war veterans’ movement, which have been harnessed by Zanu PF for a savage election campaign, is now seen as a serious challenge to the MDC Finance minister, credited with stabilising the economy – wrecked by a decade of contraction characterised by record beating hyperinflation.
The mob tried repeatedly to force their way into the 6-storey building, where Biti works. Some had a copy of the independent daily NewsDay with a front-page splash of a story on Biti saying ‘If they want war, they will get war.’ The paper quoted Biti challenging Zanu PF to come clean on diamond revenue and stop politicking over sensitive issues like civil servants’ salaries for political expediency.
Biti said: “If they want war, we will give them war. They are creating deliberate dishonesty. They are simply trying to divert attention from real issues to do with the manner over how diamond money is being handled.”
"We want to know what he means when he says if we want war, because we are ready," said one of the wear veterans, toyi-toying.
Biti seem to have touched a raw nerve with demands for a full audit into missing US$313.5million Marange diamond revenue.
No action was taken against the war veterans by the police, although they spent the whole day occupying the official Finance ministry offices. Critics say unless the police move quickly to restore law and order throughout Zimbabwe, they risk losing the opportunity to regain the peoples’ trust and confidence for ever.
Police have previously been accused of standing by or supporting the illegal occupations of hundreds of white farms by the war veterans, whose land invasion campaign have the open encouragement by President Robert Mugabe. The war veterans accused Biti of imposing sanctions on the country, citing classified US diplomatic cables that have beenpublished by the secrets-spilling WikiLeaks website.
Rights activists say the situation is spiralling out of control. "We are bracing ourselves for a difficult time in Zimbabwe. Every time there are elections there is violence," Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesman Dewa Muvhinga told journalists. "Those we expect to uphold the rule of law are not independent, they are partisan to Mugabe," he said.
The faith-based rights group Zimbabwe Peace Project reported on Tuesday that a snap look at the human rights violations figures for the month of February 2011 clearly shows that the continued bickering by politicians in implementing reforms as enshrined in the GPA "has led to many people’s rights being continuously violated at the hands of war veterans, Zanu PF militias and state security agents." -The Zimbabwean