HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsChina did not become world giant by being stupid!

China did not become world giant by being stupid!

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Mines minister Obert Mpofu has told Zimbabweans our country is endowed with the largest diamond deposits in the world and that, following the recent green light to sell our Marange diamonds, Zimbabwe will never beg for anything from anyone anymore.

“We want to shock and shake the world. We are going to unleash our worthiness to the world and Zimbabwe will not beg for anything from anybody again,” Mpofu said. “I am instructing diamond mines in Marange to ratchet their operations and sell in a big way. It is not a secret that Zimbabwe has the largest diamond reserves in the world.”

A boisterous statement such as this one, coming from a senior government official should, naturally generate hope, even excitement, from all and sundry — the Finance minister who has been allocating non-existent funds in a dream Budget, the long-suffering civil servant, battalions of our educated, jobless citizens and most of all, the ordinary man and woman on the street and in villages across Zimbabwe.

Billions of dollars are indeed going to come from Chiadzwa, but government should just come clean with the people and tell them the truth — that the bulk of our diamonds will be flown to China in exchange for military investment and a few other Chinese goodies that the ordinary man and woman can access only in their dreams.

Since Anjin, the Chinese company extracting diamonds from Chiadzwa, got the go-ahead to dispose of the millions of carats of diamonds it has been stockpiling — a military aircraft with colours bearing striking resemblance to the Chinese army — has been making frequent landings at Harare International Airport.

There are an estimated 3,6 million carats of diamonds that Anjin has accumulated while waiting for the KP green light and, according to experts, Marange stones are considered to fetch an average of no less than $80 per carat.

Zimbabwe is theoretically expected to earn more than $3 billion a year from the three diamond mines in Marange — Anjin, Marange Resources and Mbada.

Anjin is a 50-50 joint venture between the Zimbabwean and Chinese governments controlled by the two countries’ military men.

Zimbabwe, through its Look East policy, has entered into deals with the Chinese — including a loan agreement which might mean that all revenue from Anjin over the next 20 years may already have been mortgaged to Beijing!

The deal was presented to Parliament on May 30 when a visiting delegation of Chinese military brass was in the country and the agreement was rushed through the House amid strong objections from the two MDC parties.

What makes the whole deal sound iffy is that under the agreement, Zimbabwe is ordered to buy all material to be used for building the National Defence College in Mazowe from China.

And, as if that were not enough, the deal instructs that only Chinese personnel should be employed in key posts during the construction.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment promotion, Paddy Zhanda (Zanu PF) recently revealed the Chinese have grabbed the bulk of the $553 million worth of contracts awarded by government to foreigners.

“Zimbabwe has a very high unemployment rate and a liquidity crisis and we implore the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, to stop this bleeding,” Zhanda said.

But, for the ordinary Zimbabwean, the bleeding goes further in that the diamond money that does not get shipped out of the country is directed towards the benefit of an elite few. The defense college complex, for example, will have VIP recreational and medical facilities.

What has however angered Zimbabweans more is the impunity with which the Chinese trample upon the country’s labour laws.

Even the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), a staunch defender of Zanu PF and its allies, has turned against the Chinese slave drivers.

Kennias Shamuyarira, ZFTU secretary-general, said: “We have endured a lot of abuse from Chinese investors, and now is the time that we are telling them either to respect our labour laws, or go back to their country. They have been good friends to Zimbabwe, but if they continue not to respect our laws, they must go.”

“Even if they came here on a Zanu PF ticket, they should respect our labour regulations. No one is above the law on this side of Africa,” said Shamuyarira.

More than 600 workers went on strike over the $180 a month salary that the Chinese are paying them.

Those that rule us insist Chinese are our best friends who should be trusted. But it is foolish to assume these guys, who have literally taken over our cities and towns, are here to improve our lot.

Yes they are the world economic leaders today, but we must always remember the Chinese did not grow their economy by being stupid – or donating military establishments.

tchipangura@newsday.co.zw

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