Biti flees office
By Bridget Mananavire,
HARARE – In yet another sign that President Robert Mugabe’s supporters are
resorting to violence to maintain a grip on power, Finance Minister Tendai
Biti fled his Harare offices yesterday after Zanu PF militants stormed the
premises demanding his resignation.
The raid on Biti’s offices, coming days after the arrest of a top aide to
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and “subversive” statements by an army
general, has worsened fears that Zimbabwe is back to the anarchy of 2008
when more than 200 MDC supporters were murdered in cold blood after
Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in contested presidential elections.
The belligerent militants, who sang Zanu PF war songs and praised Mugabe,
invaded the new government complex at the corner of Fourth Street and
Central Avenue where Biti’s offices are housed.
They blocked the entrance to Biti’s office and in the process held hostage
those who were inside.
The atmosphere around the office complex was tense as the aggressive
militants, some of them war veterans, also blocked all entrances into the
building and intimidated pedestrians and drivers who were keen to get out.
Those stationed at Biti’s 6th Floor office entrance locked doors, demanding
to see the minister.
Biti managed to flee the complex in the afternoon through a back door. And
unaware that their target had slipped away, the angry mob maintained a heavy
presence at his office door and at the entrance to the government complex
until late in the day.
The beleaguered finance minister later told the Daily News that the attack
was yet another attempt by Zanu PF to force the collapse of the inclusive
“Quite clearly, and as the Prime Minister said in Bulawayo at the weekend,
there are some people who are hell bent on breaking apart this government –
and because of my position as the Minister of Finance I am targeted,” he
“In the past seven weeks there have been consistent attacks on me and all
sorts of bombardments at my offices. We will remain resolute and we will
look the beast in the eye.
“We didn’t get into this government because of Zanu PF but for the people of
Zimbabwe. If you read the book of Exodus, you will realise that Moses did so
many things for the children of Israel that surprised Pharaoh despite his
“The MDC is in that phase and we promise the people of Zimbabwe that there
will soon be a Passover,” a defiant Biti said.
The militants were displaying placards demanding Biti’s resignation, saying
he was defying Mugabe’s orders. Other placards labelled him a puppet of the
“Biti resign immediately for defying President Mugabe’s directive. President
Mugabe represents Zimbabweans; Biti represents EU and the West,” read one of
Some of the women among the rowdy raiders imitated war movements crawling on
the ground, while their male counterparts sang and danced.
Police officers who were at the scene did not intervene and merely watched
the anarchy, as the militants took charge of the building.
Yesterday’s raid by the militants follows the petition that they sent to
Biti’s offices last week demanding that the minister award civil servants a
salary increase this month.
“The defiance by the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti to award civil servants
a salary increment by June 2011 as has been promised by the head of state
and government has prompted the war veterans to ask whose orders the
minister follows if he disobeys those that come from the cabinet,” read the
“This state of affairs should be condemned and as war veterans we are not
amused by his stance and behaviour on national issues hence we call for the
Minister to relinquish his post if he does not want to serve the people of
Zimbabwe,” it added.
The siege on Biti’s office yesterday also comes barely a week after
Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba told the state media that Tsvangirai
was a “security threat”.
Two days later, Timba was arrested days after serial political flip flopper
and Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo demanded his arrest.
Moyo also demanded the arrest of Tsvangirai who at the weekend scoffed at