Biti Denies Zim Is Only Left With $217

Johannesburg, January 31, 2013 – Finance Minister Tendai Biti has rubbished reports that there was $217 left in the governments coffers.

“All I said is that Zimbabwe doesn’t have money to fund the referendum and election. And that for any country… the strain of having a referendum and an election in the space of six months is too much for any budget. So we need help from the international community. That is the point I was simply making,” Mr Biti told Karima Brown on CNBC Africa.

Earlier this week, Mr Biti was quoted as saying there was little money after the payment of civil servants. Mr Biti told journalists in Harare that: “The government finances are in a paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”

“For any government, having a referendum and an election in such close proximity of each other is taxing to the budget. We need $220m to fund both,” he said.

Mr Biti said Zimbabwe would help fund their own elections and would if no money was forthcoming, but that would take money away from other social projects.

Zimbabwe’s economy went into free fall at the turn of the millennium, after President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms. The move demolished investor confidence in the country, paralysed production, prompted international sanctions and scared off tourists.

After more than a decade — during which the country suffered from hyper-inflation of 231,000,000% and infrastructure that crumbled as quickly as prices went up — the situation is now more stable. But public finances remain a mess, and local business battles against unstable electricity supplies, lack of liquidity and high labour costs.

On fears on internationally donated money coming with strings Mr Biti said: “As a principle, there should be no politic strings attached to a donation. The only people to choose the political agenda of Zimbabwe should be the people of Zimbabwe.” Sapa-AFP