Biti Calls on South Africans to Choose Wisely in Elections, Warns Against Following Zimbabwe’s Path

March 15, 2024
Tendai Biti | Report Focus News
Tendai Biti

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – At the Daily Maverick’s Gathering Twenty 2024, Tendai Biti, the former Zimbabwean finance minister and now the second vice president of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change, has issued a stark warning to South Africans. He urged them to make a decisive choice in the upcoming elections on May 29 to avoid their country following the path of Zimbabwe and other Southern African nations governed by liberation movements.

Biti highlighted the perilous state of liberation movements in Southern Africa, stating they are currently caught in a cycle of power retention rather than focusing on the development of their nations and the well-being of their people. He drew parallels between the African National Congress (ANC) and historical liberation movements like Zambia’s United National Independence Party (UNIP) and Kenya’s Kanu, suggesting that without significant transformation, the ANC risks a similar fate of decline.

“The liberation movement that fails to transform…atrophies, it disappears,” Biti cautioned, noting a visible decline in the ANC’s support from the era of Nelson Mandela to the present. He speculated that achieving 40-44% in the upcoming elections would be considered a success for the ANC, underscoring a significant drop in voter confidence.

Biti also invoked the memory of Alan Paton, suggesting that if the renowned author of Cry the Beloved Country were alive today, his new work might be titled Scream, My Beloved Country, reflecting the dire situation South Africa finds itself in. Despite its vast resources and almost $500-billion GDP, South Africa, according to Biti, is on an alarming trajectory towards state failure, characterized by pseudo-elections and governance issues prevalent in many African nations.

Addressing the issue of liberation movements across Africa, Biti criticized their focus on power for its own sake, leading to widespread poverty and economic stagnation among the populace. He pointed out the culture of entitlement and impunity among the leadership of these movements, further exacerbating the problem.

The former finance minister also touched on the weaponization of poverty and ignorance by ruling parties to maintain control over impoverished populations. However, he emphasized the importance of nurturing a strong developmental state, where entrepreneurship and capital are allowed to thrive, as a remedy to political manipulation.

In contrast to Zimbabwe, where the constitution has been reduced to a “worthless piece of paper,” Biti commended South Africa’s judiciary for upholding the constitution. He concluded by stating there is still hope for South Africa, but it requires the active participation of its citizens to reclaim control of their future.

“As the elections approach, it is imperative for South Africans to grasp the historical mission before them, to take fate back into their own hands,” Biti urged, highlighting the critical role of the electorate in shaping the country’s trajectory.