Another case of plunder

GOVERNMENT has made its intentions clear on the need to expropriate mines and industry in the spirit of indigenisation. There are plans to introduce mining and indigenisation Bills to parliam

ent in moves the government believes will empower blacks.

The government has laboured feverishly to portray black Zimbabweans as victims of sustained oppression more than a quarter of a century after Independence, hence the need for empowerment.

But there appears to be an undisguised determination by our government to get it wrong all the time, in the name of black empowerment. There is a thread of disorderliness and destructiveness in all the initiatives embarked upon to date that have seen government scoring own goals without any shame. The execution of the land reform remains an unforgettable show of this talent for blundering.

Elsewhere in this paper, we carry stories of the shocking situation currently obtaining at diamond deposits in Marange district where politicians have driven out mine owners and invited villagers to exploit the resource using whatever means possible. The anarchy that the politicians have created to date is the seed of future dislocation of law and order in the sector and in the area. Even when order is finally restored, if at all it is, the residue of the disturbances is likely to haunt the area and the sector for a long time to come.

There is evidence of this virus in the land reform programme when war veterans and Zanu PF hoodlums were press-ganged and then unleashed on the land to drive out white farmers. Such was the power of the anarchists that the police were too emasculated to deal with murderers, looters and cattle rustlers. It was a virtue to illegally drive off in a white farmer’s tractor, dig up irrigation pipes or dismantle a transformer. The looters are still recognised by the Zanu PF government as heroes of the Third Chimurenga. Their criminal activities appeared to have executive blessing as known criminals from that time still walk free.

Today, attempts to restore order in the farming areas have remained difficult as the looting has continued even though there is a change of guard on the land. Farmers, both black and white, who refuse to toe the line can today still lose their farms at the drop of a hat or be subjected to endless disruptions by invaders.

The orgy of violence has become the phenomenon associated with land reform and not productivity or empowerment which are yet to be realised. Another case in point is that of Zanu PF militia groups led by Joseph Chinotimba who four years ago invaded and closed companies on the pretext that employers were giving workers a raw deal.

The invaders in some instances announced that the workers had taken over the companies and would get government support to run them. This initiative, thank goodness, failed but the axe still hangs precariously over the companies through constant threats by the state.

The Marange chaos could thus be a dress rehearsal of impending disorder in the mining sector where apprehension has been heightened as a result of the as-yet-unpublished mining Bill. When senior politicians in Manicaland lead from the front to order invasions of mines, there is every reason to fear the replication of this anarchy in other districts.

Zimbabwe has vast mineral reserves but has largely remained poor because of its destructive policies.

President Mugabe earlier in the year marvelled at platinum miner Zimplats’ contribution to the development of the Selous area, which is a model of social investment. The Marange case has nothing to do with development or the much-publicised NEDPP quest to raise foreign currency. This is state-sanctioned plunder of national resources and we are waiting to hear Mines minister Amos Midzi’s justification for the illegality taking place in Marange.

When investors see the extent of the anarchy and the fate of a legitimate prospector, they will stay away in droves. It is time that our government learnt to create wealth without plundering national resources and suspending the rule of law.

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