The Vigil will be submitting a petition to the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Wednesday 21st November calling on President Mugabe to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the billions of dollars of missing diamond money.
The diamond inquiry was one of the demands agreed for the global diaspora ‘Operation Take Back Zimbabwe’ campaign which has been protesting outside Zimbabwean diplomatic missions on the 21st of each month since January 2012.
Other demands include:
• Parliament should be responsible for finalizing the draft constitution without interference from the principals as agreed upon in the GPA
• A free and fair referendum to complete the constitution making process
• Implementation of all the outstanding GPA reforms
• A new voters’ roll
• An independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
• The confinement of soldiers to barracks
• International monitors allowed to move about freely
• An end to the political violence now re-emerging
The diamond conference at the Victoria Falls this week was overshadowed by allegations by the human rights organization Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) that billions of dollars in government revenue had been lost by corrupt diamond activities. It said: ‘The scale of illegality is mind-blowing’.
The PAC report was predictably rubbished by Mines Minister M’puffed-up who has mysteriously emerged as one of the richest men in Zimbabwe. Cathy Buckle says in her latest diary (Diamonds or water? – http://www.cathybuckle.com/index.php?id=107):
‘Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu complained to delegates about the diamond watchdog groups: “How then are you expected to be transparent when there are hyenas chasing you?” he said. “They want to know what car you drive, which house you are living in and what plane you are flying.”
The Minister’s gripes are a world away from the grinding struggle of ordinary mums in the heat and dust as they try to keep their families clean and healthy with only eight litres of water per person per day. Diamonds, houses, cars and aeroplanes on one hand and eight litres of clean water on the other; there’s something desperately wrong with Zimbabwe’s priorities.’
The MDC-T MP Eddie Cross estimates revenue from diamond sales could be as much as $4 billion a year. “You do not need to be a genius to see where some of this money is going”, he says.
“Harare is awash with luxury cars and you can see even new Rolls Royces on the streets as well as all other luxury models. Drive around the country and look at the houses going up – many covering over 2000 square metres. Some with tennis courts on their roofs, indoor heated swimming pools, elevators”
The consequences of this looting were spelt out by Tendai Biti in his budget statement this week. He said that only a derisory amount had been raised by the Treasury from the diamonds. The result was what he called ‘a soft genocide’:
‘If you look at our social indicators; 90 out of every 1 000 children born are dying at infancy, secondly our ‘maternal mortality stands at 96 mothers dying per every 1 000 during child birth and our life expectancy is 41 years. The figures of infant mortality and life expectancy are by any description soft genocide.’ (http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/nov17_2012.html#Z2 – Biti budgets for watershed elections).
It’s clear that a parallel Zanu PF treasury is receiving vast amounts of looted money to pay for such things as the vote-buying $20 million ‘Presidential’ agricultural input scheme and the huge conference hall being built at Gweru for the Zanu PF conference next month.
Minister M’puffed-up’s line was predictably parroted by ousted South African President Mbeki who was invited to speak at the Victoria Falls diamond conference. M’puffed-up praised his parrot, introducing him as an ‘international negotiator on Syria’.
The Vigil notices how many thousands of desperate civilians are fleeing Assad’s murderous regime and thinks Mr Mbeki’s alleged efforts for Syria measure up to his genocidal attempt to persuade his people that garlic and lemon were the cure for AIDS.
In his speech Mbeki again defended Zanu PF, making a point of citing the controversial research on land seizures by a British academic Ian Scoones. The Vigil notes this research has been comprehensively criticized by the Zimbabwean human rights campaigner Dale Dore (see: http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/8239 – Myths, Reality and The Inconvenient Truth about Zimbabwe’s Land Resettlement Programme).
Dore sums up Scoones’ research: ‘Those expecting a robust academic study based on sound research principles and solid analysis will be disappointed. The study’s references to understanding ‘complexity’ based on ‘mountains of data’ turns out to be detailed descriptions of localised complexity and a reticence to make meaningful and objective comparative analyses. Nor do the study’s caveats stop the authors from inappropriately extrapolating their finding from Masvingo Province to cover the entire land reform programme.’
The Vigil is dismayed that President Zuma seems to have disengaged from the Zimbabwe question at its most acute point. We understand he is preoccupied by the ANC conference next month which could, conceivably, send him out to pasture with Mbeki. But the Vigil reminds South Africa that if they fail to meet their obligations to Zimbabwe, South Africa and the whole region will be jeopardised.
• In the past week the Vigil has received a sudden surge of calls from Zimbabweans in detention facing possible deportation. We suggest people concerned contact the Zimbabwe Association. Check: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/refugee-information for contact details.
• There will be a screening of the film ‘Robert Mugabe: Villain or Hero?’ at the British Film Institute at 2 pm on Saturday 15th December which includes a panel / audience discussion. For full details check ‘Events and Notices’.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.
FOR THE RECORD: 44 signed the register.