Mega mining deals must be scrutinised

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa says foreign investors have so far assured him that Zimbabwe will receive investment inflows totalling US$15 billion if the country holds free, fair and credible elections.

He disclosed the figure last weekend during the launch of Zanu PF’s 2018 general elections campaign in Manicaland.

This is not the first time a Zanu PF leader has waved the multi-billion-dollar-investments card in this election campaign trail.

Although there is no doubt that the country is desperate for foreign direct investment, a worrying pattern is now emerging: there is a thread running through these so-called mega deals and what we are witnessing is setting off the alarm bells.

The deals are largely opaque and some of the much-hyped investors are dodgy characters.

To make matters worse, there appears to be a deliberate approach by the authorities to prevent the public from accessing any useful information on these much-vaunted deals.

This creates room for rent-seeking and corruption.

Zimbabwe’s economy was largely ruined through mismanagement and corruption.

Citizens have every right to be suspicious when public officials triumphantly announce money-spinning deals which have been clinched without the involvement of parliament.

Why is the legislature excluded from these deals which are shrouded in secrecy?

In these pages today, we report on one such controversial deal.

The Pouroulis family — which is close to President Mnangagwa — and which through Karo Resources Limited entered into a dodgy US$4,2 billion platinum investment deal with government in March, last week acquired three special grants to mine chrome and other minerals along the mineral-rich Great Dyke.

This effectively gives them control of large portions of some of the most lucrative land in Zimbabwe.

The Great Dyke, the crown jewel of Zimbabwe’s natural endowment, is host to vast ore deposits, including gold, silver, chrome, platinum, nickel and asbestos.

The tragedy is that there seems to be no break with the past in terms of how the government handles investment deals.
As everyone remembers — and we have previously highlighted this point—former president Robert Mugabe and his lackeys were in the despicable habit of mortgaging Zimbabwe for a song.

They brazenly enriched themselves in the process, while impoverishing the nation.

The practice was widespread. Think of any big mining deal. Diamonds, chrome, gold, nickel . . . the list is endless.

Sometimes money from these filthy deals flowed into Zanu PF coffers, financing violent election campaigns and also trickling into the pockets of fat cats.

When Mnangagwa and his ministers go out there to negotiate investment deals, who are they accountable to?

Considering that parliament is not playing its oversight role as stipulated by the constitution, how else will the President and his teams be held accountable to the people of Zimbabwe?

This is against all tenets of good governance in a country that is supposed to be a constitutional democracy.

Corruption has become endemic to this country.

We cannot continue giving politicians carte blanche to do as they please with finite resources, robbing us and future generations in broad daylight.

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