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MDC Secretary-General reviews lessons learned in Zimbabwe

05 Dec 2012

One of Africa’s leading politicians will be making a rare UK appearance at The University of Manchester, when he will draw on the lessons learned from four years of coalition government in Zimbabwe.

Dr Tendai Biti

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Dr Tendai Biti will also speak on governance and development in Africa at the public lecture for students and staff organised by the University’s Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI) on Dec 7.

The Movement for Democratic Change Secretary-General, will also give a masterclass on governance reforms in Africa to PhD students at the University on Dec 6.

Tendai Biti has been the Minister of Finance in Zimbabwe since 2009 when a Government of National Unity was formed to oversee the country’s political and economic recovery after a decade of crisis.

A successful lawyer before taking up politics, he is credited with overseeing the stabilisation of the Zimbabwean economy.

He is especially noted for reducing inflation from an estimated 500 million percent in December 2008 to single digits within three months of taking over the ministry.

In 2009, he officially launched a controversial report by BWPI which among other policy recommendations urged the Government to set aside tax credits to compensate the mainly white farmers who lost their land.

A February 2000 programme which redistributed land to the majority black Zimbabweans was recognised as one of the causes of an unprecedented socioeconomic and political crisis, slashing the country's life expectancy to 35years by December 2008. Unemployment was estimated at 80 per cent.

Elections planned for early 2013 are expected to bring to an end the coalition government.

Dr Admos Chimhowu an Associate Director at the University of Manchester's Brooks World Poverty Institute said: “Following the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU) in March 2009, Zimbabwe is emerging from a decade of socio-economic decline.

“Conditions have improved markedly now. Although poverty levels are still high, welfare conditions continue to improve and life expectancy has risen to 50 years and inflation fallen just above 3.5 per cent

“But more importantly, the economy has recorded four years of growth.
“Tendai Biti has played a major part in presiding over this economic stabilisation and growth – and we’re delighted to be able to hear about the experiences of coalition government in Zimbabwe and the lessons learned for the future.”