by Innocent Mujeri
Since the inception of the auction system in June this year, the Zimbabwe dollar has continued to strengthen for successive weeks against the United States dollar amid sustained exchange rate stability.
The stability of the local currency has curbed the black-market forex trading that was causing economic distortions. It has also brought price stability and afforded businesses to plan for the future without any fear that the local currency might crumble. All these gains in the financial sector have angered prophets of doom who were falsely prophesying that the country was returning to the 2008 days of hyperinflation and price instability.
Among the prophets of doom angered by the recent stability in the financial sector and the positive trajectory the economy is taking is Tendai Biti. Instead of applauding the monetary authorities for bringing stability to the economy, Biti started to accuse the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) of rigging the exchange rate. He was bound to behave like this because he was telling his Western friends that the Zimbabwean economy was headed for a disaster and he was shocked to see the economy doing well.
Biti’s unsubstantiated claim that the exchange rate was being rigged by the RBZ is just a theory to explain his false prediction of an economy headed for a disaster. He also falsely claimed that the RBZ was printing money that was causing distortion of the real value of the local currency. Ironically, it is the same Biti who boasted that the Government cannot “rig the economy,” who is now blaming the same Government for rigging the economy. Biti’s political affiliation is blinding him to the reality of the laws of economics.
Biti should be reminded not to comment on economic issues as he is not qualified to do so. His tenure as the Minister of Finance during the Government of National Unity (GNU) era does not make him an economic guru. He is just a failed politician who holds law qualifications. The economics field is foreign to him and he should not embarrass himself by portraying himself as a super economic analyst.
Biti was quoted in various publications proffering what he thought would be the solutions to the economic challenges the country was going through. He seems to have forgotten that the economic challenges the country is facing are not caused by anyone but by the sanctions he and his colleagues begged from the West.
The economic challenges are also caused by people like Biti who lie to the World that the country’s economy is headed for a disaster while indicators on the ground clearly show that the economy is on a rebound. Biti should use much of his energy in calling for the removal of the sanctions instead of dwelling on economic issues he has no knowledge of.
If truth be said, Biti was the worst Finance Minister to ever emerge in Zimbabwe. This is not because he belongs to the opposition or because he holds no finance related qualifications, but because his record during his tenure as Finance Minister says so. During his time as the Minister of Finance, when confronted with pressing issues that needed his attention, Biti would hide and only to resurface somewhere at a later stage with unsatisfying explanations meant to divert attention from his failure to handle the national purse.
It is also the same Biti who rhetorically asked civil servants to give him trees that bear money or to show him stones to squeeze in order to get money for them. This is now the same Biti who is now portraying himself as an economic guru with solutions to the country’s economic problems. Shame on him.
Close analysis of Biti's behavior would show that he is not concerned with what an ordinary man needs. Biti is not even concerned with the prospects of the country’s economy doing well. What he likes is recognition from the IMF at the expense of the plight of ordinary people. He enjoys tarnishing the image of the country and giving false economic predictions to scare away investors. It is well known that when Biti was the minister of Finance during the GNU era, he never showed any interest of making this country appear good on the world map. Instead, in August 2009, he claimed that Zimbabwe was a failed state although statistics on the ground were indicating that the country was on a recovery road. Biti told the United States of America Treasury official, Andy Baukol that Zimbabwe was a failed state despite the fact that in 2009, the Zimbabwe’s economy had progressed tremendously in the first seven months from a pace of US$4million dollars in January 2009 to US$90million in July of the same year.
Zimbabweans must just forget about Biti’s hallucinations and remain focused on their mission of bringing stability to the financial sector. They should not allow Biti to drag them into dangerous experiments that have nothing to do with improving the livelihoods of the ordinary Zimbabweans who are more worried about putting bread on their tables.
What is therefore needed is to ignore Biti’s rhetoric about the economy and holistically follow the currency roadmap adopted by the RBZ and sustain that prevailing stability by ensuring that forex continues to flow into the auction system.
Yes, Biti is entitled to his opinion on economic and financial matters, however, he needs to exercise limits to his brush style and be modest enough to give credit where it is due. If Biti continues with his foolish stance of trying to portray the Government as a failure, he will soon be perceived as a rabble-rouser, consumed in self-righteousness by criticizing for the sake of it. Biti should be reminded to speak authoritatively on legal matters and not to encroach onto other professional fields when he is least qualified to do so.