Former United States ambassador to Botswana Stephen Nalon said Mugabe recently disclosed that he rated Biti as the best ever finance minister he has worked with since he took over the country in 1980.
Mugabe reportedly said he was overly impressed by Biti despite having worked with Biti for a short period.
The late Bernard Chidzero, the late Ariston Chambati, Herbert Mrerwa, Christopher Kuruneri and Simba Makoni, have all held that portfolio but Mugabe rates Biti higher.
In a leaked US diplomatic cable, Nolan said; “President Mugabe praised the work of Tendai Biti in only a few weeks and called him his best Finance Minister ever.”
The diplomatic cable was dispatched in April 2009 but leaked late last year by whistle blowing website Wikileaks. The cable was made available this week.
In the cable, Nolan said he was told about Mugabe’s appreciation of Biti’s work by the Botswana Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani.
Skelemani had just met Mugabe during a Sadc Summit held in Swaziland soon after the formation of the inclusive government in Harare.
But Mugabe has repeatedly accused Biti of throwing spanners into the works by allegedly allocating himself presidential powers; cutting support to black farmers and failing to help struggling businesses, particularly in Bulawayo.
“This man we gave the job of managing the country’s finances does not think along the same lines as us,” Mugabe said recently, while in Manicaland where he was meeting traditional leaders.
“To him and some of his colleagues, agriculture is not an important area because they think that if they finance this sector, they will be strengthening Zanu PF. They don’t want to see the economy prospering.”
But contrary to this, it has now emerged Mugabe rates Biti very high esteem. The Botswana Foreign Minister Skelemani told the former US ambassador to Gaborone, that he was surprised that Mugabe was so impressed by Biti and that he was grateful about Botswana’s attitude towards Zimbabwe.
According to Skelemani, the Sadc leaders told Mugabe and the Zimbabwean delegation, at the summit, that “you need to help us to you.”
Minister Skelemani says that President Mugabe approached him to “thank him for his attitude” during the summit.
Mugabe told Skelemani that “we are glad you (Botswana) are even thinking about helping us.” Skelemani says that he told Mugabe “we have been trying to help you all along, even if you didn’t see it.”