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Published On: Tue, Aug 23rd, 2016

Zimbabwe government won’t pay diamond miners

Whilst the Zimbabwe government can not account for even a cent of over US$15 billion of diamond revenues, the people it used in mining those precious minerals are wallowing in abject poverty, as they have hardly been paid.

By Tendai Rubén Mbofana

One can not help but wonder at the magnitude of the greed, lust, and cruelty that consumes this ZANU PF government, to the extent that they would rather add another mansion to their already numerous mansions, without a care in the world, even if the people they employ to make that wealth sleep under a bridge.

How else can one explain such gross callousness on the part of this government?

Sadly, it reminds me of a biblical story told by the prophet Nathan to King David – when he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, and caused the death of her husband, Uriah, in order to swiftly marry her, so as to conceal his deed, as she was now pregnant.

He said that there was once a rich man who had exceeding many flocks and herds, and a poor man who had only one little ewe lamb that he loved so much and sacrificed everything to take good care of it.

However, when a traveller visited the rich man, he (the rich man) did not kill any from his vast flock in order to feed the visitor, but took the poor man’s only lamb instead.

That is exactly what the ZANU PF government is doing to the poor people of this country.

The ZANU PF government is taking the little that the suffering Zimbabweans have left, so as to add on to the already vast empires.

When diamonds were discovered in Chiadzwa, the government moved in with all its military might, claiming that this was a national resource, that should benefit the whole nation, not just a few – as some people had descended onto the area to grab some diamonds, and had become rich overnight.

The poor people who resided in that area, were forcibly removed, with the promise that they would be provided with better places to live.

That promise was never fulfilled, as the evicted residents are now poorer than before, whilst staying in crowded dwellings – worse than they had at their home area in Chiadzwa.

The Zimbabwe government then established Mbada Diamonds, through a partnership with other shareholders.

They used and abused the people they had hired in 2012 to mine this very precious mineral – without paying them their full salaries and wages – only to unceremoniously dismiss them in 2014.

Up to today, these workers have still to receive their outstanding salaries, and terminal benefits.

In fact, these workers allege that they were never given an notices of termination of services, but were merely summoned to Mbada Diamonds’ Human Resources department, where they were issued with dismissal letters, and instructed to return a month later to collect statements of account, but would not be given any money.

It is reported that the dismissed workers were only given 24 hours to vacate the company premises.

When they returned a month later to collect their statements of account, they were prohibited from entering the company premises, and were handed the letters at the gate.

Actually, according to documents I have, Mbada Diamonds wrote the statements of account to the dismissed workers on 2nd January 2015, merely acknowledging that the company owed the workers a certain amount – some workers being owed as much as US$7,358.78 – but did not have any payment date.

These statements of account disturbingly state that these former workers were owed from the date of engagement to when they were dismissed – suggesting that they were hardly paid during their employment at Mbada Diamonds.

The dismissed workers approached the Mutare Labour Court, and the matter was referred to Conciliation on 18th December 2015, whereby the company agreed to pay the dismissed workers their outstanding salaries and terminal benefits in instalments over a certain timeframe.

Needless to say, Mbada Diamonds reneged on that promise, and never paid the dismissed workers.

On 16th August 2016, the dismissed workers met in Chiadzwa to discuss this issue, only to be dispersed by people suspected of being state security agents, on the pretext that the gathering was illegal.

Previously, the first group of dismissed workers had gone to Mbada Diamonds head offices at Sam Levy Village in Borrowdale, Harare, only to be locked out of the premises, and, allegedly, had dogs set on them.

They conducted a peaceful demonstration outside the premises for three months, but no one from the company came to address them.

It is alleged that the company secretly vacated the offices, and the dismissed workers have no idea where they relocated to.

These dismissed workers, who enriched some people with billions of dollars through their sweat, are now effectively left high and dry.

Typical of the ZANU PF government – they would not care less.

Whilst they send their children to the best and most expensive schools in the world, the people that they molested and abused can not even afford fees for the cheapest, substandard and ill-equipped schools in the country.

These senior ZANU PF government officials can afford the world’s most expensive medical care, with doctors flying into the country from the far east to attend to them – however, the people they used in earning their wealth can not even afford life-saving medication.

Yet, these ZANU PF people are so fond of telling everyone how they ‘liberated’ Zimbabweans from colonial bondage

It is such a shame that we even have countries, such as Ghana, that are so naïve enough to give an award to Zimbabwean President Mugabe for his role in ‘liberating’ Zimbabweans, when in fact the opposite is true.

The people of Zimbabwe are more in bondage today, than they ever were under colonialism.

In fact, I grew up in a mining town, and I know the reasonably comfortable life we had in Rhodesia, though we were forced to stay in ‘locations’, my parents were denied a proper education, and were paid far less than their White counterparts.

However, the fact of the matter is that they received their salaries in full, and on time, every time – including annual and production target bonuses.

The company that they worked for, acknowledged that its wealth emanated through its workers, and as such, they had to be appreciated.

The company built houses, relatively good schools, well-equipped hospitals, world-class recreational facilities, and a host of other things.

That was the Rhodesia the people of Zimbabwe were ‘liberated’ from by ZANU PF.

Zimbabweans were ‘liberated’ into a world of abject poverty, where a government-owned company can make billions of dollars, but fails to pay even a single cent to its workers.

Mbada Diamonds would sponsor all manner of sporting events, just to mirage its true colours, whilst not paying its workers.

The people of Zimbabwe were ‘liberated’ into an ‘independent’ country where the government can evict poor rural people from their homes – that they had stayed for generations – to make way for a multi-billion dollar governments-owned company, which fails to provide them with any decent alternative dwellings.

Is that the ‘independence’ and ‘liberation’ that ZANU PF is so find of bragging about?

Is there anything to brag about?

Is it not embarrassing that these people are actually fighting over such a legacy, with all sorts of accusations and counter-accusations over their individual roles in the ‘liberation’ struggle?

There is nothing to fight over, as the whole legacy of the true liberation struggle of Joshua Nkomo, Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara, Lookout Masuku, Rekai Tangwena, and others, was highjacked way back in the 1970s by a callous and greedy group of mercenaries that sought to enrich themselves.

This group had long envied the colonial masters and their riches, and therefore, sought to engage in a pseudo-liberation struggle in order to get their hands on those riches.

Is it any wonder that they decided to violently invade and evict productive White commercial farmers in the year 2000, just so that they could share the most productive farms amongst themselves – and thereby, virtually running them into the ground, and starving a whole nation?

They never cared for the majority suffering people of Zimbabwe.

They merely saw colonialism as an opportunity to peddle some ‘liberation’ mantra, so as to gain power – and the povo as disposable tools.

The suffering people of Zimbabwe, however, have awoken to this fallacy, and will never stand for it anymore.

ZANU PF’s days of plunder and oppression are coming to an end, and there is no way they can stop the winds of change blowing over Zimbabwe, as the days of genuine ‘liberation’ are here – where all Zimbabweans are equal and enjoy the same opportunities to prosper and develop, in freedom and peace.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to WhatsApp/call: +263782283975, or email: tendaiandtinta.mbofana@gmail.com. Follow on Twitter: @Tendai_Mbofana