via Biti’s ‘Eat what you kill’ cliche vindicated – DailyNews Live by Conrad Nyamutata 22 JANUARY 2014
When Tendai Biti was minister of Finance in the coalition government, he became the pantomime villain of Zanu PF, accused of withholding funds in order to sabotage the party’s programmes.
President Mugabe would condemn his Finance minister in public as people realised the folly of ascribing “unity” to a government that was anything but united.
On the back of a plethora of pledges, Mugabe and his party won the subsequent election, albeit in controversial circumstances.
Biti and his party have since retreated into opposition once more.
With election gimmicks now over, the Zanu PF government has now been faced with the brute realties of governance.
“Tongai tione” (Let’s see you govern), the MDC said resignedly after the electoral defeat.
It’s a remark laden with sarcasm whose basis is now clear for everyone to see.
Evidence presented to the portfolio committees in Parliament by official after official last week has vindicated Biti’s famous or infamous phrase — depending on one’s political inclination — that “you eat what you kill”.
Of course, Zanu PF detested this salutary symbolism regardless of the obvious truth it holds.
It is the tendency in our shabby politics that if you can’t contest truth, you direct the barrel at the person.
Patrick Chinamasa, a Zanu PF minister, has since taken over the Finance portfolio and presented a US$4,1 billion budget in December.
The post-budget evidence from ministry officials before portfolio committees last week validated Biti’s symbolism.
Francis Gudyanga, Mines permanent secretary, said his ministry was allocated only $8,6 million, most of which would go to salaries.
His ministry got $976 000 for its operations out of a requested US$28,79 million.
Next, the secretary for Agriculture Ringson Chitsiko. His ministry’s allocation of $155,2 million — way below the requested $490,5 million, he said.
“The agriculture sector has had its fair share of decline and what we are doing is to try and resuscitate it so that according to the expectation of ZimAsset and the public, we will be able to achieve that,” he said.
Albert Mandizha, GMB general manager, said they asked for $355 million to boost the strategic grain reserve only to receive $96 million.
Sam Malaba, the Agribank CEO, said out of a request of $50 million to recapitalise their operations, they got a paltry $4 million.
Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) and the Cold Storage Commission (CSC) did not receive funding at all. It was like a symphony of misery.
The agricultural sector is vital to Zanu PF’s political economy.
Biti was accused of withholding support to “new farmers”.
However, Chinamasa couldn’t provide funds to support the sector either.
Will Mugabe now accuse Chinamasa of stifling Zanu PF programmes?
It is deja vu, only that the man in charge of finance is one of his own.
But the symphony did not end here. Enter, Sydney Mhishi, from the department of Social Services Sydney Mhishi with something more relevant to real or practical “eating.”
The money disbursed to his ministry was only enough to buy 2 600 metric tonnes of grain against a monthly requirement of 10 000 tonnes.
And quite concerning, thousands of children risk being denied education.
The $15 million allocated will only assist 83 000 go to school under BEAM against the targeted 250 000 vulnerable children, Mhishi told the portfolio committee.
It is all depressing.
We will recall that Mugabe raised the hopes of civil servants, promising that the Zanu PF government would increase salaries of the 230 000 workers.
Again he imputed Biti and the MDC were blocking his party’s benevolent intentions for the workers — only to offer the civil servants a measly $79 last week.
The simple truth Biti was conveying through his crude symbolism is that we are not generating enough revenue to sustain our needs as a country.
Evidence from Zanu PF itself has shown he was and is right. Zanu PF must now address the problems so that this nation can “eat” again.