The $15bn diamond saga cannot be wished away

HARARE - Last week, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa did a pathetic job of defending the indefensible.

During debate in the National Assembly on the National Budget, he tried to dismiss former president Robert Mugabe who revealed in a televised interview in February 2016 that diamond revenue worth over $15 billion could not be accounted for.

Chinamasa felt duty bound to do a pitiful public relations job on behalf of those who presided over the Chiadzwa resource at the time by saying it was impossible that Zimbabwe could claim to have lost $15 billion when the whole world’s diamond sector produces $15 billion worth of diamonds annually, with Africa’s biggest diamond producer, Botswana, producing about $2 billion worth of the gems annually.

As far as he was concerned, Mugabe spoke “figuratively” and any analytical or scientific mind should have dismissed his claims as a non-issue.

Earlier, presidential spokesperson George Charamba had heaped the blame on the media for not appreciating the “metaphor” used by Mugabe to express his disgust at the opaque nature of diamond operations in Chiadzwa.

What Chinamasa seems to forget is that when he became Finance minister in 2013 he angrily counselled diamond miners in Chiadzwa not to circumvent the fiscus, saying what was flowing into the government’s purse was inconsequential.

There have even been reported cases of funds from the sale of diamonds being externalised, with investigators hitting a brick wall in their pursuit of the looters because they enjoy protection from powerful offices.

We, therefore, find it strange that instead of instituting a comprehensive investigation by an independent inquiry into Mugabe’s claims and let the finding of that inquiry do the talking, the former president is being dismissed as “senile”.

All of a sudden he should not be taken seriously because when he made those claims he was no longer as astute upstairs, and yet only a few months ago Zanu PF faithful were showering praises on him saying he should rule for life because God blessed him with amazing strength and mental health that defies his old age.

What happened in Chiadzwa cannot be wished away by this cheap propaganda. This new administration must walk the talk on corruption and demonstrate its seriousness by turning its guns on what happened in Chiadzwa. Zimbabweans deserve answers. What Chinamasa said last week simply does not make sense.


 

Comments (1)

I agree that the matter should be investigated but, is it possible to have diamond revenues 7 times more the Zimbabwe budgett? Joao

Joao Ferrao - 24 January 2018

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