The Fable of Diamonds and the US$15bn story 

Source: The Fable of Diamonds and the US$15bn story – The Zimbabwe Independent April 13, 2018

THE entire nation must have been relieved this week as we all took one more step towards solving the great mystery of the missing diamonds.

While most of us sceptics had always suspected that some unscrupulous foreigners, working in cahoots with local corporate sell outs, were responsible for spiriting the national wealth across the country’s borders, it is increasingly emerging that this was not so.

If testimony before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy this week is anything to go by, then it appears there is nothing to worry about. Apparently, some of the diamonds were seized by our caring police force for “safe custody”.

Of course, in reality there are series of incidents in which police and their accomplices — which is strange — seized diamonds. Remember those taken from RBZ and Mbada?

One simply got dizzy watching the whole hearing. Here was a roomful of big names, all of them tied in one way or the other to the diamond trade. All spoke under oath, so who are we to even imagine they would lie?

First, you had former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation board chairperson, Godwills Masimirembwa, saying the ZRP was a 20% shareholder in a company called Gye Nyame, which had diamond operations in Chiadzwa.

Recall Masimirembwa and the US$6 million saga?

Well, documents say former Mines minister Obert Mpofu helped police muscle their way into the company.

Yes Mpofu — fallen Dear Leader Robert Mugabe’s “ever obedient son” — was neck-deep into the Marange diamond saga.

Lovemore Kurotwi accuses him of demanding a US$10 million bribe. Mpofu has virtually refused to co-operate with parliament’s investigation.

And then we always hear President Emmerson Mnangagwa waxing lyrical about government’s alleged anti-corruption campaign.

The other Gye Nyame shareholders included one William Ato Essien.

If the name rings a bell, it’s because you’ve heard it before. Back in 2013, over overflowing plates of oversized chicken and coleslaw salad, Mugabe claimed Masimirembwa had asked Essien for a US$6 million bribe.

There was much noise for a few days. But then, in no time, Mugabe backtracked. No, he later said, it was Essien who had lied. Masimirembwa was clean, he suggested. Obviously, some people had forgotten to pay homage to the Dear Leader, in more ways than one.

US$15bn fiction

While government and parliament are busy investigating Mugabe’s claims that US$15 billion in diamond revenues could have been lost during the Marange mining operations, it transpires the whole thing was an urban legend; a story circulated as though true, even if it is just a fable.

As we report somewhere in this edition, Mugabe told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview on March 15 that his claims that diamond revenues worth US$15 billion could have been siphoned was “just a story”, of course without a factual basis.

The Conqueror of the British was just telling fictitious tales. He was clearly misled by some of his corrupt and incompetent officials who wanted to find someone to blame for the Chiadzwa fiasco.

The sad reality, though, is that Zimbabweans have taken that seriously and ran with it. Government has even commissioned three audit firms — BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants, HLB Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants and PriceWaterhouseCoopers — to investigate the falsehood. Parliament has joined in the fray.

How does the country lose US$15 billion when it produced diamonds worth no more than US$5 billion at the material time? Even if you factor in theft and looting it will not go much above that.

Yes, certainly diamonds were plundered, but not on that scale. Let’s not be naïve or a country governed by a herd mentality. We need progressive contrarians in society, much like Muckraker of course, to question such things.

An inquiry into the Marange diamonds scandal is needed, but it must be grounded on reality, not fiction. All those who were involved, including Mugabe and the military, must be summoned to parliament to explain their roles. There must be now sacred cows if government and MPs are to be taken seriously on this. But will Themba Mliswa summon the People’s Commander to testify in parliament?

In the meantime, Muckraker is planning to write a book or make a movie, whatever tells the story better, about the diamonds saga titled The Fable of Diamonds and Mugabe.

Collective amnesia

The sudden outbreak of amnesia in the top echelons of the security forces and government should spring David Parirenyatwa into action. It’s a health crisis with serious consequences on our national security.

Under oath, one official after the other who appeared in that diamond inquiry process swore they had never heard that the ZRP was mining diamonds in Chiadzwa. Startling amnesia, seeing as these reports were out in the public many moons ago, including here in the Independent.

In fact, Muckraker remembers a report by a Kimberly Process team back in 2009, which found that “Government was aware of these syndicates” involving the cops. Besides, there was a letter the ZRP wrote to then minister Mpofu in 2010, begging for diamond concessions for a police company aptly named Security Self-Reliance Enterprises.

And yet, this week, nobody remembers. Deputy police chief Innocent Matibiri claims to have never heard of the ZRP’s diamond mining activities. Ignatius Chombo too, a former Home Affairs Minister, said he knew nothing about it. When a person like Chombo forgets about dodgy deals, we must all be worried.

The minister in charge of the ZRP must come out and tell us how the former Minister of mines gave diamond concessions to the police. Oh well by the way, it was same guy who allegedly wanted to be given US$10 million for his signature.

Professor Twitterati

Muckraker is impressed at how Jonathan Moyo, the poster-boy of all non-cerebral propaganda, is trying to morph into a reliable, credible source of information.

Even journalists, who by the nature of their job must walk around with a permanent side-eye, doubting everything they hear, especially from politicians of Jona’s shifty ilk, are out there whipping out their notebooks and licking their lips each time Jona tweets from whatever hole is hiding in.

This week, Jona helpfully claimed that Zanu PF had used state funds to buy party regalia worth US$70 million in 2013. Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, tweeted Jona, had “unilaterally done a multi-US$ deal in 2012 to buy and ship unapproved 2013 campaign gear”.

It is refreshing to see people who are this honest. Having been part of the Zanu PF publicity machinery himself, Jona is confessing to having dipped into state coffers for party business. He has shown similar honesty when confessing that Zimdef funds were used for party affairs in Tsholotsho, including to buy bicycles for his former constituency.

It is, however, surprising to hear Jona claim that nobody in Zanu PF knew about the 2013 regalia. Muckraker recalls Zanu PF’s manifesto, written by the professor himself, July 2103 launch at Zimbabwe Grounds, Highfield. It was announced quite loudly that Cde Mugabe, in his infinite benevolence, had singlehandedly bought the party regalia, using his own money. There was much cheering, thanking, and dancing at the news.

In fact, the Herald reported at the time, quoting Webster Shamu: “Zanu PF national political commissar told party supporters at Zimbabwe Grounds last Friday that the beautiful regalia had been donated to the party by the First Family which used its own money to rescue the party after it pleaded financial constraints.”

But it seems, much like those chefs at the diamond enquiry, memory loss has caught up with Jona and those who would choose to ignore his own selective amnesia in his tweets from self-imposed exile.

By the way, let’s ask Jona how many people does White City Stadium in Bulawayo accommodate at full capacity. You can tweet the answer Professor Twitterati!

Where on earth is Cde Stephen Chocha?

Muckraker is gravely concerned about the whereabouts of former police chief Augustine Chihuri.

The great revolutionary called Stephen Chocha. Not revolutionary in the political sense, but for allowing revolutionary corruption episodes at the police.

At one time it was almost official policy for police to be corrupt under him. They were allowed to harass, extort and demand from citizens or motorists what to all intents and purposes were bribes.

The time last we saw him in public, the poor man had been dragged screaming and kicking to State House during the crisis triggered by “military intervention” to oust the Dear Leader, to use authorities’ favourite line these days.

He has since been summoned to parliament, but was a no show. He has not appeared to attend to the little matter of his mistress in Bulawayo, and a public summons had to be issued. His former minions at ZRP say they don’t know where their former boss is.

But anyone who has seen Chihuri’s estate in Gletwin would completely understand how someone can easily get lost in that obscenely vast mansion!