HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSMM: Does the end justify the means?

SMM: Does the end justify the means?


Obert has a very sick daughter, but due to lack of money, the hospitals in Harare won’t admit his daughter.

To get the necessary money, his only choice is to rob a bank. In this case, does the end (to save his daughter) justify the means (to rob a bank)?

Does his aim for greater good make all the evils he has done right?

From a moral standpoint, the morality of an act can be determined only at the point in time when it is committed; we have to make a decision with insufficient information, and it is only the intent at that point which determines the morality of the action.

On the contrary, if we would presume that the morality of an act can be determined at a later time with more information present, then we could conclude that we could determine it with greater accuracy at an even later point in time, and so on, at which point the question of morality loses sense.

This has been perpetually exemplified in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans still wonder whether the end justifies the means with regard to the government takeover of the Mutumwa Mawere-owned Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) and handing the firm over to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) to revive the asset-stripped asbestos miner.

Mines Deputy minister Gift Chimanikire said President Robert Mugabe gave the directive that his ministry takes over SMM.

Surprisingly, Chimanikire said the dispute with Mawere had been concluded and they were conducting a cost analysis of the mines.

“It was an instruction from the President to Minister Patrick Chinamasa to hand over administration for the ministry to reopen SMM with immediate effect,” he said recently.

This happening after ZMDC was involved in another lengthy legal dispute with diamond firm ACR after the parastatal elbowed out the company from its diamond claims in Chiadzwa, and seized 129 400 carats.

In similar fashion, the ministry had cancelled the ACR permits paving the way for ZMDC to seek joint ventures to kick-start operations at the diamond fields.

Now ZMDC is in partnership with all the companies prospecting there, Sino-Zimbabwe, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Pure Diamonds and Anjin.

Despite partnering with companies at Chiadzwa, revelations are the parastatal is clueless when it comes to operations there.

ZMDC is expected to play a leading role in recapitalising Mawere’s flagship assets.

Unfortunately, the parastatal is struggling to revive its three gold mines, Jena, Elvington and Sabi, in a development that raises questions as to whether it is up to the task or not and whether it should count its blessings or has been overloaded with excess baggage.

The way SMM was seized from Mawere has also raised a lot of dust, hence not many Zimbabweans will be convinced with the route government has taken to revive SMM. Probably, the surest way of unravelling whether ZMDC would be up to the task thrust upon it is to measure the performance of parastatals that were yesteryear granted the opportunity to carry out ground-breaking works.

In telecommunications, the first operator to be licensed was NetOne, but today it is trailing Econet and Telecel, despite them arriving on the market much later.

On the other hand, Air Zimbabwe is virtually grounded. Airzim has even failed to take advantage of lucrative routes resulting in foreign operators raking in millions from the country.

Apparently, one of the major reasons for their dismal performance is government’s interference where the “State” has given directives that do not make economic sense.

To say SMM was grabbed from its rightful owner is an understatement. Its assets were also stripped. Since 2004, SMM had been under the control of the Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa-appointed administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba who had been tasked to revive the mines.

Gwaradzimba has indicated most of SMM equipment needed to be replaced.

How then can ZMDC take over SMM with all the financial problems it is facing? ZMDC needs a cool $200 million to revive SMM with all its environmental challenges posed by the asbestos industry in the country.

Morality aside, the SMM issue teaches us not to shoot ourselves in the foot.

If the country has come to realise that the goal government has set itself is not the goal Zimbabweans have desired, it simply means we have failed to clearly create our vision as a country.

By focusing only on a small part of the complete vision, government has ignored the basic tenets of property rights and in the process messing up the rest.

Politicians need to be careful what they want, because they might get it. And when they do, no amount of justification will help them.

Feedback: mdzungairi@newsday.co.zw

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