ONLY an extremely rogue government and possibly one which condones kleptocracy would be encouraged by its citizens or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to account for revenue realised from the exploitation of a major natural resource,without taking heed.
Candid Comment Owen Gagare
Sadly, Zimbabwe is one such case.
Global Witness, an international diamond watchdog that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses, on Monday released a report which confirmed Zimbabwe Independent’s findings that the military is the single biggest local beneficiary of Anjin Investments Pvt Ltd’s diamond mining revenues and that large sums of money were looted by the political and military elite instead of going to Treasury.
The report also details how the Central Intelligence Organisation, the military, notorious smugglers, and political elites, gained control or ownership of companies operating in Zimbabwe’s diamond fields, with very little proceeds benefitting the ordinary person.
The report reveals that since 2010, Zimbabwe has officially exported over US$2,5 billion in diamonds, according to official figures from the Kimberley Process. However, available government reports show only around US$300 million of the money can clearly been identified in public accounts, suggesting massive looting.
This could be the reason why the government has over the years not published detailed information about diamond mining revenue, despite calls to do so by ordinary Zimbabweans, civil society, parliament and opposition parties. Government has also failed, or rather, chosen not to account for all diamond mining revenues, from extraction to sales and transfers of proceeds. It has failed to publish audited financial statements of state-owned mining entities, in line with commitments made to the International Monetary Fund.
In addition, government has refused to publish all joint venture contracts signed with companies which operated in the Marange diamond fields before they were forced to cease operations so that they could be merged into a single company, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.
In its recommendations therefore, Global Witness, urged government to “publicly commit to root and branch governance reforms aimed at making Zimbabwe’s diamond industry, and associated revenue flows, transparent and accountable to the people of Zimbabwe”.
How shameful, but this is not a new recommendation. Zimbabweans have long urged their government to be transparent and ensure that diamond mining revenue trickles down to the ordinary person, but their plea has over the years fallen on deaf ears. It’s as if such information is highly-classified and could result in a threat to national security. It is clear that the veil of secrecy is only there because the ruling elite and their associates have over years looted the country’s diamond revenue.
Zimbabwe should follow the examples of its neighbours Botswana and South Africa were such information is readily available.
What are authorities hiding?