Tendai Biti blocking COVID-19 eradication efforts: Zimbabwe Citizen Forum

By Staff Reporter

The Zimbabwe Citizen Forum Leader Alex Gakanje has accused the MDC-Alliance Vice president, Tendai Biti of blocking the nation from accessing the Covid-19 relief fund resulting in the deaths and suffering of poor citizens.

Speaking at a press conference in Harare on Monday, Gakanje said the current suffering of Zimbabwe and failure to curb the pandemic was being caused by Biti’s ‘selfishness, narrow and myopic political ambitions.’

Gakanje highlighted, Mr. Biti has a vast empire of wealth hence his disregard of the welfare of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“As a wealthy person, perhaps the reason he blocked aid to Zimbabwe is that he is not concerned by the welfare of the majority of Zimbabweans in townships and rural areas since he is worth millions. He can afford the best health facilities as well as educational facilities. For instance, since the American Embassy in Zimbabwe plays more of a surrogate father role to Mr. Biti, it may not be surprising that Biti has been vaccinated by Americans already,” he said.

Biti wrote a letter to the World Bank (WB) and copied World Health Organisation (WHO) making allegations that the government was leasing private jets, that the corruption level in Zimbabwe was high, and that economic reform levels were hollow. In so doing, Gakanje said Biti sought to deprive Zimbabweans of getting assistance.

“On the 21st of May 2020, Mr. Biti arrogated himself the role of a State Overseer, a role which he quickly assumed and wrote a letter to the World Bank president Mr. David Malpass. He copied the letter to the World Bank’s VP for Africa, Mr. Hafez Ghanem. In the letter, in his bid to block the nation from accessing the Covid-19 relief fund, Mr. Biti made among other shocking allegations that violence and forced disappearances were prevalent and widespread, and that through the national lockdown which is a WHO brainchild, the government was stealing from the people.

“Surprisingly, the WB quickly heeded Biti’s political smear campaigns and Zimbabwe was denied the relief fund even though she is a member of the World Bank,” Gakanje said.

Other neighboring countries, he said, have since been given the relief fund and are working towards helping people during these difficult times, by improving the health sector and securing medication and the vaccine.

Gakanje went on to blame Biti for accusing the government for failing to secure the vaccine especially now when the cases are rapidly surging.

He said, “Interestingly, now that the Covid-19 infections and deaths have spiked, Mr. Biti, being the self-proclaimed overseer of this nation has been ironically making the loudest noise, mainly through social media. He is on record accusing the Government of failing to secure the vaccine.”

Gakanje stressed that he is not a government official neither is he an official of any political party but he feels obliged by the Constitution to reprimand Biti who is a leader by virtue of him having been duly elected in free and fair national elections held in 2018.

He challenged Biti to bilateral dialogue and pointed out that leaders in society are expected to be diligently leading the fight against this deadly pandemic and should not try to settle their political scores and gain political relevance using COVID-19.

“Biti is a Member of Parliament and I think he is accustomed to debates and engagements. I hope he will welcome my challenge. The nation has become crippled and unable to curb the pandemic all for his selfish, narrow and myopic political ambitions.”

Describing the background of the presser, Gakanje said that, “Perhaps you might want to know the background to this presser. I called Mr. Biti on Friday with the innocent intention to figure out the logic behind secretly blocking Zimbabwe from securing Covid-19 assistance only for him to come out publicly criticizing the Government for failing to procure the vaccine.

“I also wanted to know why Mr Biti criticized the nation for allegedly failing to emulate America in acquiring the vaccine. Above all, I wanted to find out the morality in celebrating deaths as seen by his excitement following the spiking of deaths of Zimbabweans including national heroes.”

Gakanje also blamed the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) for “publicizing unverified falsehoods” and promised to take legal steps in ensuring that justice prevails.

“Similarly, the Standard also wrote a biased article, without even verifying the facts showing objectivity by calling me to hear my side of the story. This caused harm to my personal standing and family in many ways and I will seek legal counsel to ensure that justice is served,” said Gakanje.

Gakanje urged the relevant authorities, the Parliament of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the United Nations, and the African Union to intervene and ensure that the right to life is upheld in Zimbabwe.

He also urged Biti to rectify his wrongs by going back to WB and ask the bank to finally assist Zimbabwe and save lives.

No comments were obtained from Mr. Tendai Biti, The Standard and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights by the time of going to print.