Battles and Wars

1 12 2006

The good news: the ZANU-PF Youth League “official” was a mere driver, and after the police were contacted and then they consulted with the higher powers, he was booted out of the house he’d commandeered on the farm where I live. That battle is won but the war is far from over. Now we wait for the next fatter cat to have a go.

The not so good news: “US$300m feared lost in diamonds scam” is the front page headline on today’s Zimbabwe Independent. It has emerged that the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, the sole legal trader of gems and minerals in the  country and a government body to boot, has been selling off packages of stones at around 9% of market value. The claims actually belong to a UK listed company, Africa Consolidated Resources, and are some 60km south of the border city of Mutare in the Marange area. Of course there has been other leakage in what has become a good old fashioned scramble since the government sponsored “invasion” of the claims. The senior foreman at my work comes from that area and says it is just a cholera outbreak waiting to happen. I assume it has not happened in part at least due to the late rains.

I mentioned the figure of the missing US$300m (it could buy about 6 months worth of fuel for the nation) and his response was “Do you think it was individuals or the government?” He missed my point entirely. Why was he not outraged? I was.  Have become so shell shocked as a nation that we accept the pillage of vast quantities of diamonds as the norm – just another jigsaw piece in the grand pillage puzzle? There seems to be an acceptance of the “What’s In It For Me” attitude that is so pervasive. Where have all the statesmen gone, if indeed they were ever around? Africa is haemorrhaging, and it is not at all interested in applying a tourniquet.

Yesterday the police burnt down a small squatters’ kraal (village) in the bush adjoining the entrance to the farm. Apparently it was part of a clear up of illegal gold miners operating in the Mazowe valley. There were pathetic piles of possessions outside the  blackened remains of the pole and daga structures this afternoon. A few roofs had gone back on despite the threat of a beating from the police if the people stayed there. I wonder if they know about the illegal diamond rush in Marange?

The Zimbabwe Independent is not a bad paper. One of the few “NGO” papers around (most are government controlled) it is a weekly that I quite regularly buy. No, it is not even close to the standard of the Saturday papers in the UK, but the English is sound and the reporting interesting. Paging through it this evening I noticed that we have a Women’s Affairs, Gender & Community Development minister. Now I did know that Zimbabwe has the world’s biggest cabinet so I suppose this should not have come as a surprise.  Even less of a surprise was the totally non-eventful budget presentation by the Finance Minister blaming Zimbabwe’s woes on amongst other things; “deliberate efforts to undermine our economic turnaround initiatives” – the nasty West was imposing sanctions again. Government spending of course was up.  (see www.theindependent.co.zw for further mind bending logic)

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