The very idea that the diamonds of Chiadzwa should be certified as clean is not only ironic it is so unwarranted that it defies description – coming as it does against the backdrop of cold-blooded massacres and gross human rights violations.
In 2008, when the economic consequences of Mugabe’s misrule and oppression became unbearable, thousands of Zimbabweans engaged in what could rightly be described as a justified diamond rush.
To say the least, the aftermath of that rush was totally reprehensible. The military was instructed to move in and reports indicate that innocent Zimbabweans were showered with bullets from AK47s and mauled by vicious dogs as they were forcibly removed from the fields. This degree of force was unnecessary and unjustified.
By all accounts Chiadzwa is one of the biggest diamond finds of our lifetime. It is a source of first-class gems capable of yielding, according to expert data, close to $2 billion a year – certainly enough to ensure the recovery of our economy and to rebuild our infrastructure to world-class standards.
However, with politics of patronage at the heart of Mugabe’s survival, the entire discovery has now officially become a complete fiasco. What should naturally benefit everyone in our country has been entirely diverted to the enrichment of a favoured few, all of them self-interested and evil parasites.
The embargo on the sale of blood diamonds means that Chiadzwa gems are sold on the black market – certainly for less than their true worth.
There is no recognition that the nation’s mineral resources belong to the people of Zimbabwe and that all Zimbabweans have a right to benefit from exploiting them. One has only to look at neighbouring Botswana to see how properly managed mining operations and sound fiscal policy can lift a nation out of poverty.
Meanwhile, in our country, poverty, hunger and disease loom large. Our infrastructure lies in ruin, our hospitals have become hazardous – if not altogether complete death traps.
Money that is desperately needed to alleviate the suffering of an entire nation is pouring into the already fat pockets of a handful of toadies.
Everyone who believes he has had a role to play in the perpetuation of Mugabe’s stay in power apparently wants a piece of Chiadzwa. It has become a ‘you rub my back, I rub yours’ affair. The military and the police have bluntly demanded mining concessions. In what other country of the world are the police and the military mining magnates?
It is unprecedented. It is outrageous. It is theft of the highest order.
Mineral resources are, by their very nature, finite. They are non-renewable and as a nation we get just one chance to maximise our benefits from them. Yet, by the looks of things, Mugabe’s men will only leave Chiadzwa when there are no more diamonds to extract.
While the looting exercise is underway, the message from Mugabe’s men is very clear: disclose the human rights violations at Chiadzwa entirely at your own peril.
Farai Maguwu’s incarceration is a case in point. The statute under which he was allegedly found wanting serves no purpose other than to legalise what has become a devilish trend to silence voices critical of Mugabe.
What is prejudicial to the country is not what Maguwu may or may not have communicated to the KP Monitor, it is the looting of resources meant to benefit a country in desperate need of economic resurgence.
It is the intimidation by state agents of innocent Zimbabweans who find it within themselves to say and do what is right for the benefit not of themselves but the nation at large. It is when dictatorial impositions are considered expedient and preferable to the democratic wishes of the majority of the people.
Mugabe and his crew must be made to acknowledge that Chiadzwa belongs to all Zimbabweans and that any proceeds from this immense deposit should benefit the country as a whole.
Until the benefits of Chiadzwa accrue to the nation as a whole rather than to a bunch of greedy individuals and human rights violations come to a complete halt, any suggestion that the Chiadzwa diamonds should be certified for sale on the international market is preposterous.
Psychology Maziwisa (LLB) Union for Sustainable Democracy