The group that called itself the Anti Sanctions Trust, descended on Biti’s office without prior notice, singing and chanting Zanu (PF) songs which denounced sanctions.
Fanuel Mutasa, who identified himself as the leader of the group told Biti’s staff, they had been sent by Information minister and Zanu (PF) secretary for the commissariat Webster Shamu to demand his signature on the Zanu (PF) Anti-sanctions petition.
“We want him to sign the anti-sanctions because we noticed he has not appended his signature to the petition,” said Mutasa. We are suffering. After him we will go to the higher offices (an apparent reference to PM Tsvangirai).”
Biti, however refused to meet them.
His ministry’s permanent secretary Willard Manungo told the restless demonstrators his boss had been tied up in a meeting with International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank officials.
Biti later told journalists after the group had dispersed that he would not append his signature on a partisan document.
“I will not sign any petition that belongs to any political party. I will not do that,” said the MDC-T secretary general.
“What this country needs to do is to concentrate on the issue of putting food on the table of Zimbabweans, putting jobs in the homes of our people. There is 85 percent unemployment in Zimbabwe so my mandate as minister of finance is the mandate of the Prime Minister and everyone who is in government is to make sure the people of Zimbabwe have jobs and food so nothing will deviate us from that mandate.”
President Robert Mugabe’s party has been accused of forcing ordinary Zimbabweans including members of the uniformed forces to sign the party’s petition.
The petition, which Zanu (PF) says has since been signed by over two million Zimbabweans as of 30 April this year, is intended to demand the scrapping of a decade long travel embargo and asset freeze on the veteran leader and dozens of his loyalists who are accused of rights abuses.