Zimbabwe had $217 left in the bank

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HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said that the country only had $217 (£138) left in its public account last week after paying civil servants. However, he said that the following day some $30m of revenue had been paid in.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti raised the tax-free bonus threshold to US$1 000
Finance Minister Tendai Biti presents the budget last year.

Mr Biti told the BBC he made the revelation in order to emphasise that the government was unable to finance elections, not that it was insolvent. Polls are due this year, with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF fighting Mr Biti’s Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr Biti has previously complained that diamond mining companies have not been paying revenues to the government. The power-sharing government set up in 2009 ended years of hyperinflation by using the US dollar, but the economy remains fragile.

‘Challenging position’

Mr Biti told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme that his statement had been deliberately taken out of context.

“You journalists are mischievous and malicious – the point I was making was that the Zimbabwean government doesn’t have the funds to finance the election, to finance the referendum,” he said.

“To dramatise the point, I simply made a passing reference metaphorically that when we paid civil servants last week on Thursday we were left with $217… but even the following day we had $30m in our account.”

Zimbabwe needs nearly $200m (£127m) to pay for a referendum on a new constitution, as well as the election. The government-run Herald newspaper says Mr Biti and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa have been given the task of sourcing this money from donors.

Analysts say the power-sharing government has achieved some economic stability. However, high levels of unemployment mean the country’s tax and revenue base remains extremely low.

“We’re in a challenging position, we’re a small economy and we’ve got huge things to be done but… the minister for finance of Greece has an even worse story,” Mr Biti told the BBC.

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  • Douglas Masiya

    I beg to differ.It depends where you were taught your economics.As of today, US governmernt public debt stands at $16,437,009,970,106,61.So to the discerning eye,this whole story is a product of snake-oil salesmen.How can you sell such a story when America will be reposessed by the Bankers in the-not-too-distant future.These are rantings unleashed by a bunch of kleptomaniacs,that is whites and their stoogies.They have messed America but continue meddling in sovereign Zim’s affairs.Iam greatly pissed off.The handwriting is in neon lights up there but Africans are very gullible as to be fed this hogwash.

  • Kubhoroka chaiko

  • Nicholas Farayi Marambire Matadi

    The only nation where most individuals are richer than the state. Good govenance indeed.

  • Biti kwereswa mari nampofu

  • @doug it is not us who said that but Biti said so coz ndiye ane chikwama chacho. We are talking of public acc yenyika. U a brain washed revisit yo notes again e economics.

  • Mari iri kwaGONO vanongoda kuvhiringidza maelections ana Bobo

  • Ndokuti Zim ka

  • Hubert Murefu

    hayewawo ko diamond riripi?

  • Norman Mutengo

    a very immature statement from Biti

  • Saka nyika yacho haivharwe

  • Saka nyika yacho haivharwe

  • Saka nyika yacho haivharwe

  • Busi Ndlovu

    Zim going down the drain let it be Rhodesia again n let the Britiish rule it

  • Unoda kuti anyepe here kuti ma$$$$$$$$$ anokagara akati tiii

  • Mdara

    Grow up Tendai…hatifuguri hapwa…zvemumbae ndezve mumba

  • dingdingwe

    Tell them Hon Biti…Zato thieves have left our country bankrupt. We will want them to pay back every stolen cent.

  • Biti ngaataure naUebert Angel aiitire treasury minana tiwane mari

  • Biti ngaataure naMakandiwa mari izare muacc

  • Inga zvakatiwomera

  • T Dhadha

    Hmm, I’m lost for words… honestly if it was in any other country heads would roll… imagine the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer or American Secretary of Treasury announcing how their country had $200 on the books and if their country was a company they would shut it down. Funny mentality yevanhu ava, such claims are like playing fandango dance with the facts. They are based on a farrago of confusion which has created a phantasmagoria of conflicting images of dreamland on the minds of the public … utter malicious intent to tarnish the image of Zimbabwe. UZ politics idzi. Vedzimwe havisi kuseka nesu asi kuti tirikutosekwa. Friday kudai kana mhamba ndingoinwa ndakatarisa pai nhai vana vevhu?