23 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Should Be Consistent


President Robert Mugabe's annual interview held as part of festivities to mark his 90th birthday provides the nation with a window into his somewhat enigmatic life as he often makes stunning disclosures on key national issues.

This year was no exception for the wily Mugabe who marked his birthday away from home last Friday.

In a pre-recorded broadcast interview, Mugabe made a startling disclosure about former Zimbabwe Mining Development chairman Godwills Masimirembwa whom he publicly singled out as corrupt in October last year.

An angry Mugabe then accused Masi-mirembwa of demanding a US$6 million bribe from Ghanaian businessman William Ato Essien who wanted to invest in diamond mining in Chiadzwa.

In the interview televised last week, Mugabe was however singing a different refrain: the Ghanaian investors had lied about their capacity to mine diamonds.

Here is a head of state revealing a worrying phenomenon in the country's governance. His public censure of Masimirembwa was a premature outburst made in the absence of correct and complete information.

How many decisions and political pronouncements has our president made at the spur of the moment and on the basis of unreliable information?

President Mugabe can do better than this, especially if he expects the country to believe in his sincerity in the anti-corruption crusade.

By speaking out publicly against corruption in the diamond mining sector last year, he had raised the nation's hopes that the rot at Marange was finally receiving attention from the highest office, but that is not so, it appears. Masimirembwa has been exonerated and with it, chances of a major probe into the goings-on at the diamond claims have evaporated.

This however leaves a myriad of questions unanswered. Who is responsible for advising the president on key national issues? Is the president happy with the way diamonds were exploited in Marange? Who benefitted from the proceeds? More importantly, where is the diamond money?

The nation is still waiting for answers. The climb-down on Masimirembwa has only added to the intrigue. The nation expects consistency on this crucial issue and President Mugabe has failed the test. Will he apologise to Masimirembwa and to the nation?

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