Public must scrutinise govt deals: Makoni

Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni has bewailed lack of public participation and scrutiny of the deals being made by government.

Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni
Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni

“Those deals should be open to public scrutiny, they are not. The details of the Essar deal are not known, the details of the Marange diamond deal are not known. The details around platinum, uranium are not known. We need to be consistent with our values. Accountability has to be key,” insisted Makoni in a recent interview. The former SADC executive secretary said ministers should submit to Parliament what the Essar deal is all about, as he had done during his tenure as minister.

“When I was the minister of finance I signed an agreement with IMF (International Monetary Fund) and submitted the agreements to Parliament as the ultimate manifestation of our sovereignty. All these deals should be put before Parliament to be debated and explained to the public,” he said.

Essar has failed to kick-start operations because the Ministry of Mines has refused to give it mineral rights to Mwanezi iron reserves, arguing it does not know the quantity and value of the deposits.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu says the deal must be revisited because the Indian company will only pay $700 million for resources worth $30 billion. He says he will transfer mineral rights of ore to Essar only for factual value.

President Robert Mugabe and cabinet have instructed Mpofu and the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Professor Welshman Ncube to speedily resolve the issue, but the problem remains unsettled.

“The fact that deals are not made public convinces us that there is something to hide. We want to know what that something is,” Makoni said. On indigenisation, Makoni said the law needs to be reviewed to suit everyone because the definition of indigenous is being used in a racist way.

“There are elements of the indigenisation policy that need to be reviewed. Our constitution states that Zimbabwe is a non-racial state. The definition of indigenous is very racial for a start,” he said.

Makoni urged parties in the shaky Government of National Unity to agree first before they start selling their ideas to the people. “At the moment there is no programme, there are statements and slogans. They need to find consensus between themselves. There is need for a coherent policy and then public involvement, because in the end the implementation of national policy is the responsibility of the people.”

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