Diamonds are Mugabe’s Best Friend

Diamonds are Mugabe's Best Friend
As we are all well aware, President Robert Mugabe has returned to power for his seventh term in political power, fighting off opposition from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); the poll results were recently announced by the Zimbabwe Election Commission, unduly provoking much chest-beating and boastful rhetoric from Mugabe’s political party, the ZANU-PF.

Leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the Secretary General Tendai Biti, decreed signs of fraud and “monumental rigging”, dismissing the latest result as “null and void”. These rather serious claims were backed by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), possessing 7,000 footmen on the ground, and who were responsible for inspecting the unfolding electoral events, first-hand. The ZESN indicated the poll had been “seriously compromised”.

Amidst fears that the election may have been rigged, it is alleged that caches of diamonds have been leveraged to sway due process. If a recent article, published by the Sunday Times, is accurate, a series of leaked documents expound upon Chinese and Zimbabwean diamond corporations bundling money into a political war chest; this constitutes a cash reserve, levied up well in advance of a campaign trail, utilized for enhancing an electoral candidate’s chances of becoming elected.

This could explain recent events, where Mr. Mugabe made the unilateral and illegitimate decision to hold the next general election, by the end of July. This motion was unconditionally supported by the Constitutional Courts, regardless of rebuttals submitted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as the MDC opposition, arguing for an extension on the grounds that the announcement was too soon, and Mr. Mugabe had not consulted his coalition partners.

The classified documents, dated June 3, expose two companies involved in diamond mining operations; one lead by a Chinese investor, and the other headed by Zimbabwean military personnel, including members of the government-controlled, Zimbabwean army, police and intelligence services. The cash revenue, generated by the afore-mentioned diamond companies, amounts to $800 million, a figure which has received additional subsidy from President Joseph Kabila, of the Democratic Republic of Congo and leaders of Equatorial Guinea, who donated $85m and $92m, respectively.

ZANU-PF officials, allegedly, exercised the financial boon to hire a named Israeli firm to fix the upcoming general election. It is claimed, the Israeli group requested a sum of $3 billion “… to secure 50 percent of the adult vote” for Mugabe’s political push. There has been much debate over the electoral roll, which had not been published by the Election Commission on time, or electronically; instead, a hard copy of the roll was released, barely 48 hours before polling stations were due to open.

During the run up to the election, the results of a report, sought by the Registrar-General to investigate discrepancies with the electoral roll, were banned. These documents were later leaked, revealing that as many as two million voters, under the age of 30, had been missed off the roll; the significance of this lies in the age category of those neglected, a group which is dominated by MDC supporters. The report also noted the existence of registered names for over a million deceased individuals, along with 900,000 duplicated names, which had been given different identification tags, enabling ZANU-PF supporters to vote on multiple occasions.

To many, it would seem that the results of such illegitimate practice were plain to see. During last Wednesday’s voting fiasco, it is approximated that up to one million people were denied their constitutional right to vote. The ZESN argue this to be caused by the systematic rigging of the electoral roll, resulting in many urban voters being rejected at polling stations. Reports highlight, 99.7 percent of rural voters had been registered, whereas a significant proportion of the urban population had been ignored; only 67.94 percent of urban voters were registered. Feelings of distrust have only worsened, when contrasting the percentage of poll stations that turned people away in urban poll areas (82%), relative to rural poll areas (38%). In addition, in many areas, the number of votes cast far exceeded the number of registered, adult voters resident. A government advisor queried the obscure situation:

“How is this possible?” He then added, “ZANU-PF created millions of ghost voters they then used to swing the elections in their favor.”

Aside from the electoral roll, the ZESN suggest a concerted effort, on behalf of ZANU-PF loyalists, to cajole and manipulate state media, rush the electoral process and intimidate the rural electorate. These concerns have also been validated by the leaked intelligence documents, which discuss budgetary plans, “… 33 percent of the budget will cover regional diplomacy to drum up support for poll credibility before, during and after elections”. It has been discovered, chairman of one of the chief diamond mining consortiums, Sam Pa, funded $2m for election paraphernalia, whilst another company provided 500 vehicles for Mugabe’s transportation needs, during the campaign. Incredibly, the documents showed that Mugabe was able to acquire short-wave jamming equipment, imported from China, to silence pro-MDC radio stations.

In the wake of such blatant fraud and the callous disregard for the sanctity of a fair and unbiased electoral process, it seems impossible to extricate Mugabe from power. As the country spirals further and further into economic ruin, under ZANU-PF’s autocratic regime, the MDC seem powerless to institute genuine change. According to David Coltart, the outgoing Education Minister, the results will have wide-ranging implications:

“It will be hard for ZANU PF to say that the result reflects the genuine will of the people, and this will impact relations with International community and future investment… this sends us right back to 2008 and means the aspirations of Zimbabwe people will not be met.”

Tendai Biti summarizes the desperate situation, neatly:

“We have been walking like zombies, drowning in dark shadows of pain and disbelief, hoping that this is just a nightmare where someone will wake us up in a sweat.”

The sad reality? Nobody’s coming to wake them up.

Written By: James Fenner

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