Under Zimbabwe’s laws, it is the Ministry of Finance which is responsible for the management of public funds but it was sidelined, as was the key Ministry of Public Service when President Robert Mugabe turned to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) for the US$40 million needed for the increments.
The way the money, raised through the sale of diamonds mined at Chiadzwa, was deposited into the government salaries account without the involvement of the Ministry of Finance is a serious cause for concern.
Among other things, it shows that Mugabe, after being snubbed by the Ministry of Finance, now has a parallel source of money in the form of Chiadzwa diamonds.
As shown last week, these funds are available to Mugabe without either the consent of the Finance ministry or the scrutiny of other partners in the inclusive government.
Over the past few months Mugabe has had headaches dealing with Finance minister Tendai Biti who has stopped the looting of the Treasury by Zanu PF chefs.
Biti is known for insisting that the government has to “eat what it has gathered”.
So stopping Biti from laying his hands on diamond funds was Mugabe’s best way of going ahead with his populist promises to civil servants.
But this move, which should be condemned in the strongest terms, is a reflection of the lawlessness that has become synonymous with Zanu PF rule.
This usurpation of the Finance ministry’s powers demonstrates how diamond revenues can easily be used to fuel conflict if not used wisely and accountably.
What next are the diamond revenues illegally held in ZMDC coffers going to be used for? To arm Zanu PF militias during election times, perhaps? Or, in the case of electoral loss, to destabilise the country?
Last week’s action is the beginning of warlordism. The Kimberley Process should take note and act accordingly so that the money raised from Chiadzwa diamonds is not abused in this manner.