By Byron Mutingwende
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has called on mandated institutions of law enforcement and the justice delivery system to roll up their sleeves and work hard to expose and bring to book those who have looted the alleged $ 15 billion in potential national revenue.
The call comes at the backdrop of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) and the Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ), among others, registering their displeasure over the US$15 billion which was looted by companies and government representatives in Chiadzwa diamond fields.
“Had such a large amount of money been deployed to the national fiscus, the education sector would have been completely transformed. The government must account for how such a large sum of money was looted right under their nose,” said Obert Masaraure, RTUZ president.
TIZ said the public must demand more than the setting up of a commission of inquiry as history has shown that in Zimbabwe Commissions are not respected as their findings go into a deep dark hole where they are never discussed let alone enforced.
Examples of this include the initiative led by the late Honorable Edward Chindori – Chininga, chairing the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy in 2013 on Mbada Diamonds. The latter was accused of engaging in tax fraud, illegal auctions of gemstones and false investment declarations to the Ministry of Finance. The committee’s 2013 report implicated Obert Mpofu of wrongfully awarding Mbada Diamonds a joint venture deal with government without due diligence.
Mbada Diamond board chairperson Robert Mhlanga was also accused of having organised the 2010 auction sale of diamonds without the knowledge of other board members and government authorities which was later cancelled following an international outcry. The report was tabled by committee Chairman Edward Chindori-Chininga on June 18, a day before he was allegedly assassinated by Zanu PF hitmen to prevent more disclosures fingering party bosses.
“We urge in addition to competently run forensic investigations and audits, government must strongly consider the resuscitation of the Zimbabwe Mining Revenue Transparency Initiative as part of strengthening extractive industry governance transparency and accountability in line with international standards and instruments,” TIZ said.
The corruption watchdog said the issue of the missing $15 billion diamond revenue should be given serious attention and more so within the context of the recent Panama expose, which highlighted illicit financial flows globally including Zimbabwe. “The mandate of the police must be expanded to include the Panama expose,” TIZ added.
In its 2012 Annual State of Corruption report, Transparency International Zimbabwe assessed the state of corruption in the mining sector and its potential central driver role on economic growth and recovery in Zimbabwe. Findings were that while the sector can indeed be a potential driver of economic recovery in Zimbabwe it is also riddled with lack of transparency and accountability and in some cases corrupt activities at management and operational levels that undermine its potential contribution. It also further undermines the entrepreneurial roles that can be played by women and youth in the sector.
In what could justify President Mugabe’s assertion that $15 billion mining revenue may have been stolen, in 2009 Tony Hawkins reported that, “Everything being equal, Zimbabwe’s precious mineral resources have the potential to generate export earnings in the region of US$2 billion annually over the medium term and upwards of US$5 billion a year within 15 years; by far making mining both the largest exporter and earner of revenue.”
It is abundantly clear that communities and the nation at large have not benefitted from the extraction of natural resources so far. This begs the question: who are the Zimbabweans and non Zimbabwean who have been benefiting from the massive expansion of Zimbabwe’s extractive sector in the past decade.
The practice of corruption is the single biggest cause of poverty and the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Corruption is difficult to investigate because those who practice it will do everything possible to cover it up by destroying evidence. We need great efficiency and competency in both the Police, ZACC and our courts if justice is to be done in such matters.
“They [the corrupt] protect themselves through relations with political and public leadership who in turn use institutions, legislations and policies that undermine transparency and good governance, thereby making it difficult for the public to know and demand accountability. Investigating corruption is a herculean task that can attract all sorts of threats, harassment and resentment, especially in countries where corruption is endemic and pathological as is the case in Zimbabwe,” said a TIZ report.
TI-Z has also demonstrated that the battle against corruption in the mining sector is not a lost cause, but rather it’s an ongoing struggle that requires all actors to play their part in ensuring that profits from the extractive sector are transparently published, accounted for in the national treasury and equally distributed for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.
Corruption is presented as a human rights violation as it takes away the rights of others to live in dignity by diverting public resources to personal use.