Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Battle for Zimbabwe’s diamonds

I SAT in this sofa last night and watched the much-advertised BBC Panorama Programme on Zimbabwe’s diamond industry called “Mugabe’s Blood Diamonds”. I did not want to be guided by my intrinsic bias, but I thought it appropriate to key in salient points for further debate.

I have reproduced these in point form and would welcome healthy ideas based on critical thinking, meaningful debates and opinions on paramount matters that affect our country.

Content and Context

1. The documentary is not collaborated by the state – there is no input from the state, military and police. Why did the BBC refuse interview that was granted by the Minister of Mines? Why did they not approach the army and the Police, or put them of record as having declined to be interviewed? Why did they not approach the President’s Office? Better still, approach the Prime Minister’s Office on the probity of a functional coalition Government in respect of Zimbabwe’s diamonds?

2. Judging from the responses of the interviewees, those ‘interviewed’ were probably bribed in some other ways or given money. Does one get an impression that the BBC takes advantage of political and socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country to advance a cause that is purpose driven here? How permissible is it to extract information this way? Surely all respondents cannot just be narrating the same themes? People are diverse and ideas are not packed as homogeneous blocks articulating same causes. What is the agenda here?

3. About the dead civilians that are catalogued – there is no evidence that the dead died from army gunshot wounds! Where is the evidence of the ‘dead’ apart from showing pictures of an overgrown graveyard exaggerated as a ‘mass grave’? If this was a well orchestrated Panorama interview, then of course, common sense is that there must be people to support the storyline. There is no co-relation between the dead and those names that were scribbled on an unofficial piece of paper. It would have been credible to show the name(s) of the deceased then collaborate with the hospital authorities (mortuary); and proceed to support the storyline by interviewing the relatives of the dead persons. That is evidence-based than speculative.

Research Methods

4. I am also curious that the documentary was originated from Mozambique – why? The BBC is now allowed and actually based in Zimbabwe at the moment – where, of late they appear to be sitting on their laurels or busy clandestinely doctoring records to justify ‘human rights abuses’? What is the point of totally freezing out the Ministry of Information out of the debate to which they are affiliated? Where is the balance? It was not necessary for the BBC to go to Chiadzwa through Mozambique, unless there was a justified cause. Why would one go through Angola to make a report in Namibia? I get the impression of over-exaggerating security concerns for purposes of imprinting a sense of brutality and intolerance of Zimbabwe as a country?

5. Showing the world a graveyard does not necessarily mean that those buried in it are ‘victims’ of police brutality. They may well have died of other natural causes including AIDS. Again, the aspect of connectivity or a correlation comes to the fore. Why does the BBC blatantly seek to mislead the world in a highly calculated strategy of dirty politics? On another note, showing the world of existence of the so called ‘records of death’ does not mean that they become credible enough for political consumption. Some of the information was stolen from hospitals and re-typed to produce evidence for The Hague. How reliable is such evidence?

Doggy Dossiers

The British press is known for ‘doggy dossiers’; ‘technical inaccuracies’ of figures facts and statistics and ‘sexing up’ documentaries and ‘doctoring’ of documents!

We hear tirades of how the press is manipulated by politicians especially at British Prime Minister’s Questions.

The BBC itself is part of the hugely corrupt web of ‘freedom of press’ candelabrum, where journalists, newspaper owners and reporters bribe the Metropolitan Police to avert prosecution for libelous and criminal reporting!

As I write this note, Scotland Yard bosses resigned over the News of the World phone hacking scandals where the police are alleged to have taken bribes to absolve journalists from prosecution.

It is a sickening world.

6. Why do civilians continue to occupy fields demarcated as ‘protected’ where they remain illegal occupants? Different reasons apply. By way of examples, some may still wonder about what happened to the demonstrators in UK’s Sell fields a few years back? How about at Stanstead Airport? How about at the third runway at Heathrow? How did the military police handle them? Why did the police use button sticks and ammunition on its people in Bradford? Why are the police using high-handed brutal means including live shootings in Tottenham, Enfield, Walthamstow, East Ham, Brixton and Croydon – to name just a few places?

Indeed these are riots triggered by the racist shooting of an innocent black man!

As I write this article, what is happening in Tottenham, a satellite borough of a first world capital, London is worse than what took place in Marange!

Common knowledge is that if an area is designated ‘protected’ by the state, then trespassers will meet the full wrath of the law including imprisonment! Chiyadzwa is protected, and efforts to relocate people are underway. Many of the people who were ‘displaced’ have since been successfully relocated. The area is a lot calmer now and ‘jambanja’ is a thing of the past. Why is this not being accurately reported by the BBC?

The Hague

7. I hear the BBC reporter mentioning ‘The Hague’. What for? Former Liberian president, Charles Taylor’s ghost of imperialist machinations is being reincarnated? We now hear of The Hague and see the desperation of the UK’s quest for greater influence in the management of Zimbabwe’s own diamonds – a new-found wealth! Taylor was ‘punished’ for being an obstruction to the wanton looting of resources in Liberia mainly by imperialist countries, including Britain. Inasmuch as Gaddafi has to pay heavily for the oil and the bombing of the Pan American Jumbo that fell over Lockerbie! Mugabe must fall on their sword for ‘human rights abuses’ including the land question – i.e. land reform programme that saw even the royal family’s land in Zimbabwe being redistributed to landless peasants! This is ‘works in progress’ so to speak.

8. The fact that Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga went to Chiadzwa does not necessarily mean that he was stage-managing processes of repression as insinuated in the programme. For God’s sake someone must use their reasoning capacity. Why does the BBC now love to mention Chiwenga and Air Force chief, Perence Shiri’s names? Again, a case of building a fortress in their ‘New Zimbabwe’ agenda is well pronounced! To connect this argument: former opposition party of Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC-T is calling for the reforms of Zimbabwe’s security services by citing specific names as ‘problematic’. It cannot be a mere coincidence that the same names are also being touted in BBC’s Panorama Programme!

Atrocities in Iraq

On the other hand, we have lost count of the number of times the British PMs or USA Presidents have been to Iraq. It would be mischievous for one to speculate that they go to Iraq to motivate their soldiers to kill innocent civilians for oil or yet alone label the oil as ‘bloody’! On a related note, we are yet to see a Panorama document fully detailing atrocities being perpetuated in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan Northern Ireland and Libya to name a few countries. We saw one about Guantanamo Bay, but to date, no one in authority has repeated putrid statements about it. As a footnote to the foregoing, human rights become a relative term, a lexicon that is applied subjectively and discreetly for power and expedience. We need to watch the use of extreme language and diction dominating this programme.

The reporter used the term ‘serious human rights abuses’ as an emotive term designed to conjure up images of brutality.

She went on to say that ‘our cameras could not stay there long’. Again this denotes situational fear which is often appended to dictatorship and the military junta.

The true reason why cameras had to be moved from a non-existing image was that there was literally nothing to focus on!

But the impact of speculative journalism through the use of diction is used reinforce psychological fear and pressure in calculating the notion of a military state.

Thus, to portray President Mugabe as a dictator is the selling point of regime change or collective international action because ‘Plan A’ of sanctions has failed.

Whose Benefit?

9. Statements that the diamond revenue is not benefitting the ordinary people appear to be insipid and dry! Do we have to, as a country, open our financial books and budget statements to the West for inspection? How we use our financial resources as a country in entirely our own story. Of course they will inspect Botswana books and draft that country’s national budget as they please, but I do not think Zimbabwe is prepared for that. There are so many projects that have now been initiated from diamond sales proceeds.

It is up to the government to disclose the nature of the projects but really, the government is not obliged. After the coalition government was put in place, Zimbabwe’s promised AID never materialised. Zimbabwe has recovered using a combination of robust fiscal measures and macro-economic policies despite some questionable packages and strategies by the finance ministry. We are using the proceeds from diamonds to kick-start and stabilize the economy in different ways. It is only the UK which is too keen and wary of tracking minute events of Zimbabwe’s recovery process. We are not going to ask the reasons for this.

10. A point of correction is the Kimberly Process C ertification Scheme (Kimberley Process, or KP) is not in turmoil as suggested. The BBC report is designed to influence the Kimberly Process in terms of making decisions on the resumption of the sale of diamonds. The pressure on the KP is being exerted selectively, privately and publicly at different wavelengths. We saw this drama unfolding as the Panorama is now a tool designed to tip the scales in favour of British interests. This is live drama which the world is now well used to.

What happened on the eve of the election of FIFA’s Blatter? People saw the build up and desperate attempts to persuade voting members into making decisions which Britain really wanted? What happened to the over-drummed corruption case of FIFA? They say that the UK is a scarecrow that relies on its very powerful media and press for world domination. This is very true.

Alternative Markets

11. Britain is at liberty to boycott Zimbabwean diamonds. We have alternative markets. Britain is jealous that it has been isolated by Zimbabwe for too long a time when the world has moved on. It is only unfortunate for our beloved former colony that diamonds were discovered when it was almost irrelevant but significant to our political dispensation. There are contradictions and inherent in capitalist global economies: For example, I hear certain quarters of the MDC alluding to the fact that diamonds must benefit locals. But on the other hand, Britain is against this because they are arrogant, full of rapacity and greed – they want to benefit exclusively from what they think is a ‘loot’ of the day! Britain supports the MDC-T.

Master’s Hymn Book

However, MDC is singing a different song that is not even found in their Master’s hymn book. MDC ‘concurs’ with Zanu–PF by parroting that there is ‘no reverse to land reform’; but Britain wants the whole project cancelled and are prepared to ‘fund for proper land reform’. Thus, it becomes an anathema if British interests are totally marginalized, and therefore, a project is not good enough! The British culture of pursuing protracted agenda under the banner of the Empire is what keeps them on the pedestal of dominance and patronage! Truly liberated Zimbabwean compatriots find this approach rather archaic and deprecating!

12. Concoctions about who is personally benefiting from Diamonds are downright insidious and malicious. It is like perpetuating a storyline that the grand mansion that sprawl over literally the whole mountain in Highlands for Prime Minister Tsvangirai is being built from the proceeds of diamonds! It is equally unqualified to speculate that even MDC-T MPs’s pick-up trucks are a product of Marange? Hei! There is no evidence that President Robert Mugabe is personally benefitting from the diamonds – the British are paranoid and afraid of Mugabe! Inzwai, Bona is not going to school using Marange diamonds!

Social research methods call for enquiries that are based on scientific and ethical methods of extracting information through evidence-based practice. Paying inducements to ‘interviewees’ to release certain information is all but a good way of distorting findings. The halo effect is possible! Whatever the situation, the BBC must hang their heads in shame for producing such a one-sided, ill-researched, half-backed documentary for the world to see!

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