'Tomana, Mpofu out of order'

HARARE - Civil society leaders have reacted angrily to threats made by Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu and Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana this week.

The two government officials were addressing guests at a Zimbabwe Diamond Conference Review meeting in Harare where they threatened to crack down on perceived economic saboteurs within the civil society sector.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director Mcdonald Lewanika said Mpofu and Tomana were just singing for their supper.

“The utterances by both the minister and AG are unfortunate but we are aware and understand where they are coming from. When they talk about the economic interests of the state, it is a euphemism for their own selfish interests. We know what they represent,” he said.

“These threats are meant to dilute the role of civic society of being the watchdogs of government excesses. If Mpofu and Tomana want people to keep quiet they should start doing the right things,” Lewanika said.

He said Mpofu must make public the amounts Zimbabwe is getting from diamond sales.

“Tomana, on the other hand, should stop the selective application of the law. He should stop dreaming about supposed crimes that may or may not be committed and prosecute people fingered in extra-judicial killings, disappearances and the 2008 atrocities,” said Lewanika.

Centre for Natural Resources Governance director Farai Maguwu said Mpofu and Tomana’s threats were in violation of the regulations governing diamond trade.

“It is important that the letter and spirit of the Kimberly Process are respected and this should be seen to be happening. The comments by the attorney general and minister Mpofu fly in the face of this and send the wrong signals to international organisations. They seem to communicate that Zimbabwe wants to be a law unto itself,” he said.

“The most striking paradox is that Zimbabweans continue to die of medieval diseases such as cholera and typhoid while we witness massive sales of diamond. Every Zimbabwean is asking where the money is going and it is important that we continue to call for accountability and transparency in all economic sectors,” said Maguwu.

National Association of Non-governmental Organisations chief executive Cephas Zinhumwe said Tomana and Mpofu’s threats were meant to cow NGOs.

“I think it is time that we come together and strategise in order to respond to these threats,” said Zinhumwe.

“I am not sure whether Tomana has been protecting us if one looks at the kind of harassment that our members have gone through. If he now says he is going to remove the protection which we think has never been there, then we have every reason to fear for the worst,” Zinhumwe said.

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