EDITORIAL COMMENT: ZANU- PF can’t rewrite Chiadzwa hiistory

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: ZANU- PF can’t rewrite Chiadzwa hiistory | The Financial Gazette June 22, 2017

NOT for the first time, President Robert Mugabe last Friday tried to shift blame for the shambolic management of Zimbabwe’s diamond resources onto the Chinese.

While he told supporters at last week’s rally in Mutare that he had been sold a dummy by Chinese firms who operated in Chiadzwa, it is the people of Zimbabwe who must feel cheated.

Since government took control of the vast alluvial diamond fields in 2008, there is not much to show beyond a polluted Odzi river, a third rate hotel in Sakubva and a $100 million defence college without which the republic would still stand.

The government, through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), was the single biggest player of all Chiadzwa diamond miners. Even if we stretch credulity and accept that government was a supine shareholder in the diamond ventures, this would be no less damning.

A government that admits failure to account for $5 billion diamond export proceeds, as recorded by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme between 2008 and 2015, confesses to gross dereliction of duty. But we are not, even for a moment, persuaded that government was not wise to the goings on at Chiadzwa. No amount of gaslighting and scapegoating will absolve those whose responsibility it is to judicously manage the country’s resources of complicity in this monumental fraud.

Only those with grievously short memories will forget how former finance minister Tendai Biti fought a lengthy, but ultimately futile, battle to get the Chiadzwa miners to account for diamond revenues.
ZANU-PF routinely dismissed reports of smuggling and fraud at the Chiadzwa mines as unfounded, politically motivated, mudslinging. Until the bonanza came to an end

After all, did Mugabe not tell a diamond conference hosted by his government in November 2012 in Victoria Falls that Zimbabwe’s “diamond sub-sector has become central in the growth and development of our economy as evidenced by its critical contribution towards economic growth and development”? He insisted: “The industry has assumed a flagship role in economic development with respect to infrastructural development, employment creation and human capital development. The proceeds from diamond sales have made it possible for government to channel the much needed funding into both productive and social sectors.”

Fast-forward to 2016, the same president who lauded the Chiadzwa diamond operations told the nation on the occasion of his 92nd birthday that the country had lost out on $15 billion diamond revenues through smuggling and other illicit means.

What has changed?

With this checkered record and demonstrable complicity in the grand heist, government now seeks to inveigle the nation with a promise to better manage, directly, the Chiadzwa resource through the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

ZCDC recently appointed its third chief executive in just over a year of operations, having fired the first, reportedly over a failed lie detector test. Rather ironic, considering the lies that officialdom has sought to sell this country’s long-suffering citizens since the Chiadzwa diamonds spilled into the public consciousness.
Instead of seeking to shift blame, government must fully support the Auditor General’s ongoing investigation of diamond leakages from the Chiadzwa operations. We hope there is no repeat of the stonewalling encountered by a Parliamentary committee which sought to probe the diamond mines between 2010 and 2013.