Finance Minister Tendai Biti escaped death after unknown assailants threw an explosive at his official residence in Harare on Saturday night, hardly a day after President Robert Mugabe and security chiefs attacked him for refusing to review civil servants salaries.
President Robert Mugabe reportedly teamed up with security chiefs on Friday and ordered Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to force Biti to review government workers’ salaries, saying the issue was now a threat to national security.Informed sources said the ultimatum was issued at a National Security Council meeting.
The President and the security chiefs are believed to be worried that if the ` salaries were not immediately increased, this might ignite North Africa-style protests similar to the ones that toppled authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Tunisia early this year.When the incident happened, Biti was said to be away.
Yesterday, the MDC-T confirmed unknown assailants threw an explosive at Biti’s home in what the party suspect could be an act of terror by its opponents.But police spokesperson Andrew Phiri said by late last night, they had not received the report. The explosive reportedly destroyed a section of a precast wall to Biti’s official residence in the Grange, but caused no damage to the house.Strenuos efforts to contact Biti yesterday were fruitless.
MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa confirmed the incident and described it as an act of terror. He said the incident occurred on Saturday night while Biti, who also doubles up as MDC-T secretary-general, was out of town.When NewsDay visited the premises, a police officer manning the place ordered the news team not to take photographs of the destroyed precast wall. The policeman said: “I will not allow you to take pictures today. You can come tomorrow because there are some investigations that have to be done first.
“Besides, the owner of the property hasn’t come to see what has happened.”Chamisa said: “We have received the disturbing news. These are terror tactics. Tactics of terrorism and antics of instilling fear which have been used by many people.”
He denied that this was an act of politicking ahead of the Sadc Summit scheduled for South Africa this weekend.Part of the precast wall where the alleged explosive detonated was visibly tainted with black soot.
Biti has been at loggerheads with security chiefs who demanded Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to act and make him release funds to pay civil servants’ salaries.An MDC-T statement released last night said: “Hon Biti’s House was attacked last night by unknown assailants.