Reports that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was at the weekend barred from touring diamond-rich Chiadzwa makes sad reading.
He was reportedly barred from visiting the area on the pretext that he did not have a clearance from the Police General Headquarters in Harare.
Besides, Zanu PF apparatchiks had moved into positions to disrupt the Premier’s tour of villagers displaced by the diamond-mining firms in Chiadzwa. This, of course, was done for cheap political reasons.
Tsvangirai is not the first person to be stopped from visiting Chiadzwa as Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu last year on numerous occasions barred the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines from touring the diamond fields in Marange for the same reason that it had not sought police clearance.
Then, the ministry argued it was a security area. We wonder what security, if a Prime Minister is barred?
Where did the wheels come off? What does this mean for him, the government and the country?
What message is being conveyed by his barring from Chiadzwa when President Robert Mugabe has in the last few months been visiting the diamond-rich area every week?
Tsvangirai had wanted to visit villagers displaced by the mining operations as part of his weekend tour of Manicaland Province.
Given worrying reports of families reportedly suffering and the controversy of the mining area in recent years, the Premier’s visit was more than justified.
But reports that the Manicaland governor’s office had been given an instruction by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to bar Tsvangirai’s tour because he had not been granted permission are a slap in the inclusive government’s face.
It raises serious questions as to what really is going on in the mining area. It comes at a time when the diamond certification arm, Kimberly Process, is divided over certification of Chiadzwa diamonds.
What happened at the weekend would reinforce suspicions of those countries that have been lobbying for blocking the sale of the gems.
Tsvangirai as the chairperson of the Council of Ministers and therefore a senior government official should be allowed unfettered access to Chiadzwa and see for himself what is going on in there.
This continued harassment of Tsvangirai only tells the world that the smuggling of diamonds by senior government officials is rife.
If reports that Zanu PF supporters had mobilised to disrupt the Premier’s tour are true, then the country is shooting itself in the foot.
There have been persistent reports that Zanu PF officials are involved in the smuggling of diamonds in the area and alleged human rights violations.
Otherwise, if top Zanu PF officials were not involved in diamond rackets, why would they concern themselves about Tsvangirai’s visit?
There is no doubt that the latest move could cause further friction in the inclusive government.
Also, if it is a prerequisite for senior government officials to require clearance and Tsvangirai is aware of it, why didn’t he request for one?
Both Zanu PF and MDC-T should shape up or ship out, otherwise the people are tired of these political games.