A selfish and shameless bunch

That Zanu (PF) will always act in its own self-interest is so obvious it needs no repeating here.

But that the party would go to the extent of openly defending the looting of national resources – as it is doing in seeking to block nationalisation of Marange diamond fields – simply because those benefiting from the stolen gems are its members and allies is appalling, even by the party’s standards.

Legislators from President Robert Mugabe’s party put up a spirited defense of the status quo at Marange last week, rejecting suggestions that the diamond fields be taken over by the government and exploited transparently for the benefit of all Zimbabweans – not just a few well-connected individuals as is presently the case.

Nationalising the diamond resources, Zanu(PF) told us, would have a disastrous and far-reaching impact for investment not only at Marange but the national economy in general.

To quote one of the Zanu (PF) lawmakers, Makhosini Hlongwane, the party’s MP for Mberengwa East constituency: "If you nationalise diamonds, capital will run away."

How disingenuous this is, coming from a party that, through its chaotic and violent land and property-grabbing, has shooed investors away from our shores and run our once vibrant economy into the ground.

This is the same party that, if it had its way, would nationalise the whole economy. Now they turn around to lecture us about free enterprise. We may as well have the devil himself preach us the gospel!

For the record, we are not ordinarily for nationalisation or state-ownership of the economy. We believe that businesses function best in private hands, unhindered by government control or interference beyond what is absolutely necessary.

But the call for nationalisation of Marange that has been taken up by the MDC, and which all progressive Zimbabweans will no doubt support, is a cry borne out of desperation to see something done to stop wholesale looting of a key national resource.

The hope is that at least with the government, and not the greedy cabal of military generals and their Chinese friends, in charge of the exploitation and marketing of the diamonds it would be possible to establish a modicum of transparency and accountability at Marange.

Of course, bringing the government to Marange would also mean inviting the usual inefficiencies, laziness and corruption synonymous with state-run enterprises. We would continue to have diamonds pilfered from Marange.

But, at least, smuggling would not be the normal way through which the bulk of the precious stones leave Marange as is the case at the moment.

With parliament, the ministry of finance and other state agencies involved in monitoring proceedings, we stand a better chance of avoiding a situation where – as is happening at present – we are told that diamonds were sold for $13 per carat when in fact they went for as much as $65 per carat.

More transparency at Marange would save us money we badly need as a nation. It would also mean less cash flowing into the pockets of Zanu (PF) fatcats and army generals. This is why they will fight tooth and nail to keep things just the way they are at – just the sort of thing we have come to expect from this selfish and shameless bunch.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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