HARARE – The recent dismissal of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) management not only exonerates the Daily News from the brickbats and battering it received for warning the Zanu PF government against its ill-advised seizure of diamond companies, but also goes on to show how myopic our leaders are.
Only a few months ago, we shouted our voices hoarse telling all and sundry that the illegal seizure of diamond mines in Marange would result in far-reaching consequences for the country’s already ailing economy.
Hardly six months have passed and the country is facing one of its worst cash crisis largely due to foreign investor flight caused by reckless and controversial government policies.
The closure of six diamond firms, which were at the forefront of ensuring the availability of cash in Zimbabwe through employment and a raft of royalties, not only crippled the flow of money but also forced thousands of workers onto the streets.
Instead of promoting transparency and accountability — as Mines minister Walter Chidakwa wanted the whole world to believe — the State-owned ZCDC has failed to increase production and remit anything to Treasury.
As it stands, the company’s chief executive Mark Mabhudhu and finance director Stewart Musekiwa, are believed to have been fired for incompetence, corruption and maladministration among a host of other issues.
The fact that ZCDC only produced 120 000 carats in five months fetching the country a paltry $5,5 million is evidence enough that commercial diamond mining requires well capitalised companies and not “panning” as is being done by the parastatal.
While we understand that most of the diamond miners that were stationed in Chiadzwa did not contribute as much as was expected from them to the economy, the firms at least employed thousands of people and were instrumental in many social responsibility programmes.
Take Mbada Diamonds as an example. The company not only paid $424 million in taxes, dividends and advances to government and spent nearly $34 million on corporate social responsibilities in the five years it was operational but also brought great joy to football fans through its lucrative Mbada Diamonds Cup.
The tournament was instrumental in spreading the game to other parts of the country, unearthing new talent and giving soccer players and fans something to look forward to under the current harsh economic environment.
But all that was stopped by a few selfish and rapacious individuals who wanted to satisfy their egos at the expense of the nation.
We have said it before, and we will say it again. President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF-led government must revisit the mine seizures and treat the companies as individual entities to find out who has been contributing to government and not.