PEOPLE’S Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti has fired a broadside at some “stupid” western ambassadors in Zimbabwe for allegedly jumping into bed with a Zanu PF faction at the expense of former opposition allies.
Following the shock defeat of the country’s opposition by Zanu PF 2013, the West has been softening its hostile stance towards President Robert Mugabe’s regime which it blames for rights abuses in the country.
Diplomatic circles claim the West was gravitating towards an Emmerson Mnangagwa takeover which it hopes shall culminate into his presidency when Mugabe exits politics.
The West, it is further alleged, believes Mnangagwa was a reformist who will open up the country to Western trade and guarantee property rights.
But the apparent betrayal has riled the country’s opposition, among them the former finance minister, Biti.
“There are some embassies that have stuck their necks out on a particular candidate in Zanu PF and sought to redefine Zimbabwean politics, ‘Zimbabwe needs a strong man’,” Biti said at Ibbo Mandaza’s Sapes policy dialogue forum Thursday evening.
The elite forum is often attended by Western ambassadors and their Zimbabwean staff.
“Never mind about the democracy, ‘we can have authoritarian democracy… authoritarian electoral change suits Africa’,” Biti tried to mimic the Western thinking.
“…You get seduced by this argument that ‘democracy can’t exist in Africa, we need these big man’. There are some embassies that have been running with that.
“Very unfortunate, very unwise, very stupid for lack of a better word, excuse me for speaking like I am still at the students’ union.”
Biti said western embassies have been investing in Zanu PF factions.
Zim on brink of civil war
He said this would not yield any positive results for a crisis-weary country which he predicted was on the brink of a civil war under Zanu PF’s current slide towards implosion.
“That has created a new regime of international thinking in Zimbabwe…‘we will engage with this government on economic affairs’; that suddenly Zanu is actually a reform agent; that certain people who were actually monsters of yesterday can actually drive the reform agenda.
“So you have dinner with some of these ambassadors and you look at them and think, have they taken two or three glasses of wine and you say no they are still sober.”
Biti urged the West to desist from attempts to impose leaders on Zimbabweans.
“You (West) can’t do that! You can’t impose a system on us; you can’t impose an agenda on us, an agenda that is alternative to the fact that we Zimbabweans want and have a right to choose leaders that must run us, not leaders that you prefer in the various Zanu PF factions.
“So we are paying a price for that, we are really, really paying a price for that paternalism.”
Mandaza, who moderated the discussion in which Zimbabwe People First’s Rugaro Gumbo was co-panelist, urged a national consensus among Zimbabweans and the broader international community on the way forward.
He also concurred with Biti.
“We must warn our international partners that we don’t want in Zimbabwe what they would not have in their own countries, appointed leaders.
“You don’t have that in your countries, you have got elected leaders. Down with the Eurocentric view of African politics where stability is more important than democracy, where the big man syndrome is largely a creation of European countries.”
Mandaza said President Robert Mugabe and the late Malawian dictator Kamuzu Banda were Western creations.
The two’s comments also follow similar sentiments by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who urged the West to trade carefully when dealing with the “hardline” Mnangagwa.
“I was with one of the ambassadors and he was talking about Mnangagwa being a pragmatist,” Tsvangirai said then.
“I said pragmatist as far as other issues are concerned but a hardliner as far as governance and democracy are concerned.”