PRESS STATEMENT: Recent revelations by President Robert Mugabe to the effect that at least US$15 billion worth of diamonds from Marange/Chiadzwa has not been accounted for are very astounding and startling, to say the least.
Mugabe publicly stated that less than US$2 billion has been remitted to treasury ever since diamond mining operations began in the Marange/Chiadzwa areas about a decade ago.
The MDC is extremely concerned with the opaqueness surrounding the diamond mining activities at Marange in Manicaland province. It is more than apparent that right from the outset, the manner in which mining licences were awarded to the various mining companies at Marange/Chiadzwa lacked transparency and accountability.
There was no public tender system that was instituted before the afore-mentioned diamond mining licences were awarded. Everything was done secretively and as a result, it was always going to be very difficult to enforce transparency and good corporate governance consistent with international best practice.
In a desperate move purportedly aimed at restoring sanity within the diamond mining industry in Marange, the government recently cancelled all licences that had been granted to the various mining companies.
Not surprisingly, a number of these diamond mining companies have since resorted to litigation in order to enforce what they claim to be their rights that were infringed by the government’s rather draconian and unprecedented action. Since the court cases are still sub judice, the MDC will not give its own interpretation of the law suits. Suffice to state that the MDC strongly advocates for respect for the rule of law and property rights.
No rocket science is needed to appreciate the fact that there has been serious illicit financial flows from Zimbabwe emanating from the opaque and shadowy diamond mining operations in Chiadzwa over the years. Even the local communities that live in Marange communal lands have bitterly complained about how the diamond mining activities on their ancestral land has not benefitted them in any meaningful and tangible way.
Abject poverty and destitution remain the order of the day for the thousands of villagers who were translocated to Arda Transau Estate to make way for the diamond mining operations. Even the provincial capital city, Mutare, still looks like a ghost town inspite of the fact that billions of dollars worth of diamonds have been extracted from Chiadzwa over the past few years.
Put bluntly, the people of Chiadzwa in particular and the whole of Zimbabwe in general, have absolutely nothing to show to prove that diamonds have improved their standard of living. If anything, the discovery of diamonds in Marange has come to be some kind of a curse to the people of Chiadzwa in particular and to all Zimbabweans in general.
Marange diamonds have benefitted only a few privileged people; most of whom are members of the ruling elite. It is beyond comprehension how a staggering US$15 billion worth of diamonds could go missing without the President of the country knowing, exactly, what is taking place on the ground.
Mugabe’s recent disclosure, therefore, is clear proof of gross dereliction of duty on his part. Without a proper and comprehensive forensic audit of the diamond mining activities in Marange being carried out, the people of Zimbabwe might never get to know how much, the country has lost as a result of the criminal and illicit financial flows coming out of Marange.
The MDC holds Mugabe and his entire Zanu PF regime solely and wholly responsible for the mess in Marange. We have stated it before, and we repeat it here and now, Mugabe is no longer in full and effective control of the country. The deep-rooted factionalism that is tearing Zanu PF apart has literally made it impossible for Mugabe, at the very advanced age of 92, to efficiently and effectively discharge his duties as Head of State.
It is apparent that there are some shadowy and Mafia-like forces that are now in de facto control of the country. In order to save Zimbabwe from a complete and irretrievable breakdown, the MDC calls upon parliamentarians, across the political divide, to do the patriotic and honourable thing of immediately impeaching Mugabe.
The old man is certainly no longer fit and proper to remain in office as the country’s President. He has totally and hopelessly failed to discharge his duties as Head of State.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by Morgan Tsvangirai