“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorises it, and a moral code that glorifies it.”
This observation was made by one of the world’s great thinkers, a political economist, Frederic Bastiat, way back in 1850.
Zimbabwe cannot afford to take casual the revelations made in Parliament by Eddie Cross, MP for Bulawayo South, that diamonds worth as much as $70 billion at Chiadzwa diamond fields could be disappearing through organised and authorised plunder.
“In 2010 we could have earned $1 billion, raising the total revenue from Marange to $5 billion and these figures are amazing,” Cross said. “On Sunday, the technical director of ACR from Australia said the quantities of diamonds from Marange can be two billion carats. We are talking of resources that are worth $60 billion to $70 billion.”
The legislator, who said he had evidence of his claims, was making contributions to Parliament last week, telling the august House the police, the army, CIO and the Prison Services had all been given mining claims in the rich diamond field and were busy extracting the gems.
The military’s role in the diamond fields is already well documented and the rampant human rights abuses at their hands resulted in the country being banned from international diamond sales.
That decision has since been overturned after the diamond trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process, certified a stockpile of Chiadzwa stones as “conflict-free”.
The ban was lifted after an agreement was reached between the KP group and the Mines ministry, which included the phasing out of the military from the area. But reports from the diamond fields show clearly that the military is going nowhere, making a mockery of the agreement.
By authorising the shenanigans obtaining at Chiadzwa, Zimbabwe is squandering a glittering opportunity not only to turn around our sick economy, but to transform Zimbabwe into one of Africa’s richest nations.
Chiadzwa diamond mines could be earning Zimbabwe as much as $600 million a month, according to a report by Partnership Africa Canada.
That kind of money is enough to make a big dent in the $8,3 billion the country needs to reach its development and reconstruction goals.
Instead, the mines have become a chaotic and militarised battlefield of panhandlers and corrupt individuals in the security sector who are funnelling the country’s riches into their own bank accounts.
Chiadzwa could have been turned from being Zimbabwe’s biggest hope into a crime scene!
Cross told Parliament he had done a research on Chiadzwa and had come up with authentic figures on Marange proceeds.
“I even have evidence that Mbada has been processing more than one million tonnes per annum and we have obtained figures on the diamond quality, values and, in fact, the Minister (of Mines Obert Mpofu) misled this House when he said diamonds were $13 per carat, when in actual fact they were $65 per carat and Marange has produced large quantities of gems worth $2 500 per carat, which means the output of Mbada Diamonds alone is $1,4 million per tonne, and that is worth 15% of Zimbabwe’s (National) Budget,” Cross said.
Six years ago, President Robert Mugabe put together what he called a “War Cabinet” whose mandate he said was to deal with the then rampant white-collar crime that saw company executives and bankers flee the country or jailed.
Members of that “War Cabinet” included such Amadoda Sibili (real men), as Mugabe dubbed them, like Ignatius Chombo, Obert Mpofu and others. Their brief was to root out corruption and dishonesty — to probe and punish plunderers of our economy.
The President, embarrassed and exasperated by wanton thieving of public funds, had taken a hard public stance against graft and greed.
The nation believed he had found the panacea to Zimbabwe’s mortal cancer and that lessons would be learnt from the real big heads that everyone expected would roll.
That did not happen. Yes, the so-called masters of externalisation and money laundering were either locked up or haunted out of the country, but the big fish – rotten to the core — simply swam deeper under water. The fatwa on corruption failed to yield expected results.
After a year of his rather boastful announcement of the Cabinet of war, it was none other than Mugabe himself who came out to tell the nation that his Amadoda Sibili had turned out to be one of “the worst Cabinets I have ever had”.
Mugabe has several more times since then, publicly declared war against “daylight robbery” in high places, but save for the 1989 Press-induced Sandura purge of the Willowgate thieves, the President has ever been playing the toothless bulldog.
He may have to set up another commission to deal with what is fast unravelling as “Chiadzwagate” which is threatening to swallow whole, some of the fat, big fish, rotten heads and all.