War vets threaten Biti
Written by Wonai Masvingise
HARARE – Marauding war veterans and suspected militia yesterday besieged the
offices of Finance minister Tendai Biti, left, where they threatened to beat
him up for apparent “lack” of respect for President Robert Mugabe.
Waving banners inscribed “Biti SHOW THE President Respect”, the angry mob
promised to burn the Daily News, among other newspapers for “encouraging
Biti’s campaign against Mugabe”.
The militant veterans of the Zimbabwe’s liberation were incensed by the MDC
secretary general’s acerbic remarks with regards to Mugabe’s age.
Biti is accused of having said Mugabe should be confined to an old people’s
home — sparking angry response from one of the octogenarian leader’s fierce
However, the unmoved Biti who confirmed the demonstration and subsequent
meeting with representatives of the war veterans, said he respected Mugabe
and had a solid working relationship with the veteran leader.
“I respect the President, he is the head of state, I respect the Prime
Minister, I respect my principals. I actually have very good relations with
the President,” Biti told the Daily News.”
“Just last week I was in a three-hour-meeting with the President and we had
beautifully-made chicken and pancakes. I am a product of the good education
of this country which the President is responsible for,” Biti said.
The combative MDC official said Mugabe should be the first one to admit that
his education policy had produced a competent breed of class to which he was
“He educated us to offer different views and I am part of that generation he
should be proud of. The President did not educate us to be imbeciles,
slavish and engage in moronic behaviour,” said Biti.
The Finance minister revealed he had met a 12-member representative team
of the demonstrating war veterans and held a frank discussion with regards
to their grievances pertaining to payment of school fees by government.
The ministry of Defence is responsible for paying the fees for war veterans’
children but without allocation from treasury headed by Biti, it is
“I had a meeting earlier on with some of the war veterans. They were unhappy
about the issue of payment of school fees. We have a problem with our
general fiscal position but we will deal with it. I think at the end of the
day it was a fruitful meeting. They understood that there is not enough
money,” Biti said.
“They also understood that there has not been much revenue from our
diamonds. We will deal with their grievance.”
Biti, however, refused to be drawn into the politics of the demonstration
preferring to say that the task of reviving the economy was more pressing
In yesterday’s demonstration, there was a similar pattern to last year’s
raid at the minister’s office by suspected Zanu PF youths and war veterans
who demanded increases in school fees payouts for the former freedom
Last year, Biti survived a bomb blast at his Glen Lorne home, a day after he
had a heated exchange with senior governments’ agents during the Security
A powerful explosion destroyed part of the durawall of the main entrance but
no one was injured.
Biti had threatened to resign from government after the bomb attack.
Police are yet to arrest suspects in the matter.
Previously Biti had been beaten, jailed and sent bullets in an envelope by
people he said were enemies of democracy.
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