Zim: A smash-and-grab country

HARARE - “Zimbabwe came through the barrel of the gun”, then some 20 years after independence it started to grab farms, and now it is grabbing mines and companies — the grabbing continues with many now saying the landlocked nation is a country of smash and grab (jambanja).

Viewed with the chaos unfolding in the diamond mining fields of Chiadzwa, analysts say Zimbabwe is a nation of hostile takeovers.

At the same time, the long-suffering Zimbabweans are bearing the brunt of Zanu PF’s factional fights, with no solution in sight for the men and women across the country’s streets and villages.

The resultant socio-economic crisis continues to threaten the livelihoods of millions of citizens as companies continue to close and thousands of people lose their jobs.

“I think it’s symptomatic of the crisis in the country where the centre of power around Mugabe has collapsed and we now have competing elements in and outside the party,” prominent Zimbabwean economist Eddie Cross told the Daily News on Sunday.

In the ensuing melee, at least 15 white farmers have been served with eviction notices even as they prepare to harvest their crop.

The seizures have continued even as government is fully aware that the “brave” new settlers are unable to produce food in meaningful quantities.

“The essence in this is all to grab assets,” Cross said.

“The land grabs is the work of criminal elements in Zanu PF if you look at the properties grabbed last week, one is a hotel and the others are peri-urban properties.”

Disorder is also reigning supreme in the municipal sector where government’s failure to regularise stands has left scores homeless.

It has led Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba to dare President Robert Mugabe to appoint him the minister of Local Government and Public Works.

In an apparent jibe at incumbent Savior Kasukuwere, Chinotimba said his heart bleeds for the wanton demolition of houses across the country by municipal authorities which has left hundreds homeless.

Municipal authorities have naturally drawn the ire of residents who accuse them of continuing to carry out houses demolitions without court orders, something human rights groups say is a violation of their rights to shelter.

“The disrespect of the courts of law is what is causing problems in this country. It started with jambanja (violent seizures) on the farms, jambanja in the banks and now jambanja in the mines,” said prominent lawyer Stanford Moyo.

Moyo was speaking in court while appearing on behalf of Grandwell and Mbada respectively in an urgent chamber application heard before High Court judge Joseph Mafusire last week.

Cross also waded into the saga which has engulfed the Marange diamond fields, since Mines minister Walter Chidakwa announced that government was kicking out all private companies in the area.

At least 15 illegal diamond miners were this week feared dead after a red zone mine shaft they were working in collapsed as they attempted to flee a police raid late on Tuesday night.

“I don’t know who is behind the seizures. But Chidakwa is the nephew of the president and I would assume Mugabe is moving to block other factions from having a share of the diamonds,” he said.

The banking sector has not been left out of the rot with banks this week struggling to provide cash and limiting daily withdrawal amounts for individuals and companies.

Commenting on struggling banks, economist Vince Museve said, “The debilitating cash crunch that bank depositors are facing is clear indication of a broader economic crisis which the Mugabe regime is facing and is in large parts responsible for”.

Giving an insight into the politics surrounding the governing party former vice president Joice Mujuru  said for a long time while she was still within the ranks of the ruling party, she had been of the view that Zanu PF could be “renewed from within”, but this had proven to be impossible.

“The country is now the laughing stock of the world right now and yet we used to be number one left, right and centre. Where are we now? Which number one position can you claim now?

“Number one of gossip, number one of occupying a podium and shouting at people who are busy developing their nations?

“That is our only number one position,” she said in reference to Mugabe who is notorious for his biting anti-West rhetoric.

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