Friday, September 18, 2009

''mugabe'' at the mining conference

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends a mining conference in the capital Harare September 16, 2009. Mugabe urged foreign mining companies to invest in the southern African country and sought on Wednesday to allay fears that such businesses could be expropriated.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends a mining conference in the capital Harare September 16, 2009. Mugabe urged foreign mining companies to invest in the southern African country and sought on Wednesday to allay fears that such businesses could be expropriated.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is seen on a screen addressing a two-day mining conference in Harare on September 16, 2009. Mugabe told 850 foreign investors attending the conference to seize opportunities in the country's mining sector, assuring them that the unity government was on track.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses a two-day mining conference at Conference center in Harare on September 16, 2009. Mugabe told 850 foreign investors attending the conference to seize opportunities in the country's mining sector, assuring them that the unity government was on track.

HRW accused of not revealing Anglo-American Corporation diamond theft, 

Mugabe tries to distance Zanu-PF from shady diamond deals

Anglo-American Corporation has come under attack from President Mugabe for milking the southern African country of millions of dollars from diamonds as the company “never revealed to government that there are diamonds in Chiadzwa” Mugabe was appealing to investors attending a Mining Conference in Harare. A recently Human Rights Watch report failed to identity the Anglo-American Corporation’s involvement in the diamond field. He claimed that Anglo-American knew of the existence of diamonds in Chiadzwa but never revealed that to Government only for it to secretly benefit from the extraction of the precious mineral. "The Anglo-American Corporation did a lot of prospecting but never told us there were diamonds there," said Mugabe. "From what we hear Anglo was doing some tests year-in year-out and getting diamonds out of the country" without the knowledge of the government, he added.

He said Anglo-American Corporation had lots of claims that are still the largest player in the mining sector “…so we say to them give them up. Let other players come in”. This revelation only serves to rubbish reports that diamonds were only discovered in Zimbabwe in 2006 and that they were used to benefit Zanu PF party officials. Mugabe’s claims could not be immediately verified.

A HRW cover-up?

A Human Rights Watch report released in June and which coincided with the Kimberley Process team’s visit to Zimbabwe claimed that government violently took over diamond fields in Zimbabwe last year and has used the illicit revenues to buy the loyalty of restive soldiers and enrich party leaders.

The HRW report did not identify Anglo-American’s years of involvement in the diamond field and how it denied Zimbabwe access to a vital resource. The report further alleged that the Zanu PF party smuggled diamonds out of the country or illegally sold them through the Reserve Bank; but was silent on Anglo-American’s activities.

Mugabe told investors the role of the military at Chiadzwa diamond fields where hundreds of illegal miners where killed by the military. "We had to clear the area and get it under the occupation of the State. The army was not there to mine but to provide security in the area and to take care of the area until Government got an experienced company to do the mining’

But the Kimberley Process has long urged the government to immediately withdraw troops from the controversial diamond fields.

In June Mugabe’s deputy Mining Minister Murisi Zwizwai refuted claims of killings in the diamond fields saying claims were a result of ’unsubstantiated reports’. "Contrary to allegations in the media, nobody was killed by security forces during an operation at Marange, where about 30,000 people descended onto the alluvial mining field," Zwizwai said. "These people comprised of cunning, die-hard illegal diamond diggers”.

Economists say despite its potential, mining has been constrained by problems such as erratic power supply, skills shortages, failure to access foreign currency and shortages of spare parts such as drill bits. Mining accounts for 3.8% of the country’s GDP, about 4.5% of employment and a third of total foreign exchange earnings based on 2007-2008 output.

Mining could yield $16 bln investment: Zimbabwe PM

HARARE — Zimbabwe's mining sector could yield up to 16 billion dollars if the government can create the right climate for foreign investment, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told industry leaders Thursday.
"Zimbabwe's mining sector presents the most immediate opportunity to attract significant investment for economic development," Tsvangirai told the final day of a mining conference in the capital.

The government, and mining industry, had "a window of opportunity" to prepare a conducive policy environment by mid-2010, that could attract between six and 16 billion dollars in investment during 2011-2018, he said.

"Thereafter we could rationally target an increase to GDP exceeding three billion dollars per annum arising from such investment."

Key issues were a rational royalty scheme and corporate tax with competitive incentives, de-regulation of minerals marketing which had already started with gold sales, and respect for mining title, he said.

The introduction of multiple currencies at the start of the year, after the hyperinflation-battered local dollar was abandoned, has provided stability and was likely to remain for the foreseeable future, he said.

"We must acknowledge that many of the problems that we have faced historically and continue to face today are home made," said Tsvangirai, adding that there was no international conspiracy against the country.

"The sooner that all the parties that comprise this inclusive government accept this fact and start dealing with the real causes of the challenges facing our nation, the sooner that we will be able to deliver real change."

President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai's partner in a unity government, has repeatedly alleged that Zimbabwe's economic woes were the result of interference from Harare's enemies.

Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans had to benefit from mining, which should be done "fairly, transparently and in line with accepted international norms".

But he said the government must also investigate human rights abuses, allegedly at the hands of the army, at the Marange diamond fields.

The two-day mining conference was attended by 850 foreign investors.

Mineral-rich Zimbabwe was once a prime source of gold, platinum, chrome and dozens of other metals, but most mines have run down their operations because of the high cost of doing business here.

Mining accounts for 3.8 percent of Zimbabwe's GDP, about 4.5 percent of employment and a third of total foreign exchange earnings based on 2007-2008 output.


Zimbabwe is neither rough nor racist - Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has told nearly 1000 mining investors, gathered in Harare, that his country is not rough and racist.
Government officials are desperate to woo foreigners to bring much-needed dollars to the troubled nation.
There is still no definite word on proposed mining laws that could force foreigners to hand over a majority share to locals.
The government is still to decide on investors to mine the Chiadzwa diamond fields, where illegal panning is still going on.
Reports on Thursday said an illegal diamond dealer died in the area when he jumped from a truck to avoid police.
Nurses found $1,100 on the body; most of the notes have since disappeared.


Out with those white farmers.

Ben Freeth’s reward for staying put.
FOR Mike Campbell and Ben Freeth, his son-in-law, leaders of a legal battle to save Zimbabwe’s last white-owned farms, Robert Mugabe’s warning came too late. By the time the president made his latest tirade against white “imperialist” farmers, their own farmsteads were no more than a pile of ashes and rubble. And just days after the arson attacks, two mysterious explosions shook the farm. On September 14th the police, who say they are now investigating a suspected arms cache, briefly arrested Mr Freeth and held a visiting crew from the al-Jazeera television channel for “entering a potential crime scene”.

The arms-cache trick has been played before, on Roy Bennett among others. He is a dispossessed white farmer who was appointed deputy agriculture minister in the power-sharing government set up in February with Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, as prime minister. In 2006 Mr Bennett was charged with treason after the discovery of an arms cache at an alleged co-conspirator’s home. The treason charge, which carries the death penalty, has since been dropped. But Mr Bennett is still facing trial on equally spurious terrorism charges next month. Mr Mugabe still refuses to let him be sworn in as a minister.

Since the land seizures began a decade ago, some 4,000 owners (virtually all white) of Zimbabwe’s most productive farms have been forced out, along with their 320,000 workers (almost all black) and their families, amounting to 1m-2m people. Although around two-thirds of the land has been allocated to 140,000 poor black families, the rest has gone to Mr Mugabe’s relatives and comrades, most of whom have little or no interest in farming. Vast tracts of fertile farmland now lie fallow; agricultural output has slumped. One of Africa’s biggest food exporters is now one of its main recipients of food aid.

 Of 6,500 white commercial farmers in 1980, when Mr Mugabe came to power, only about 500 remain. But it is clear from the treatment meted out to Messrs Campbell and Freeth that Mr Mugabe wants the whole lot out. In a speech on September 11th, on the eve of the European Union’s first high-level visit to Zimbabwe in seven years, he called on his ruling Zanu-PF party’s youth wing to “protect” their God-given land from the designs of new white imperialists and told the “former” commercial farmers to abandon their uneven struggle. Once the government had issued an “offer letter”, supposedly giving the recipient the right to take over a designated white farm, “that’s it,” he said. “The farm is not yours any more. Please don’t resist.”

For Mike Campbell and Ben Freeth, their own saga began in 2004 when Nathan Shamuyarira, then Mr Mugabe’s information minister, turned up one Sunday at lunch time at their 1,200-hectare Mount Carmel Farm in Chegutu, a couple of hours’ drive south-west of the capital, Harare. He announced he had been given the right to take over what was then Zimbabwe’s biggest mango farm. Mr Freeth insisted that the minister first go through the correct legal procedures.

It was a bold, perhaps foolhardy, reaction. Thirteen white farmers had by then been murdered and dozens more beaten up or jailed for resisting the seizure of their farms. Though no one in the Campbell-Freeth families has been killed, they and their 150 workers have, over the past five years, been subjected to repeated harassment and terrifying intimidation.

On one occasion, 15 armed invaders, banging on metal objects and chanting war songs, forced their way into Mr Freeth’s house, threatening to burn it to the ground, kill the two men present, rape the women and eat the three children asleep in their beds. Thanks to an earlier beating, Mr Freeth, an emaciated, soft-spoken man of 40, has never recovered his sense of smell. Mr Campbell, 76, was so badly thrashed that his memory is impaired.

The invaders, who say they are acting on behalf of Mr Shamuyarira, though he has not been seen at the farm since his first visit five years ago, have taken the Campbells’ home and their entire farm, leaving most of the crops to rot in the fields. Like many of the other remaining white farmers, Mr Freeth has turned to God. He has already started rebuilding his house. He says he is determined to stay.

Last November, in a case brought by Mr Campbell on behalf of 77 other white farmers, a tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a 15-member regional group that includes Zimbabwe, ruled that all land seizures since 2000 were discriminatory and violated both domestic and SADC treaty law. Mr Mugabe and his ZANU-PF ministers claim that the tribunal has no legal standing. In a further violation of the tribunal’s ruling, around 170 white farmers are now being prosecuted in Zimbabwe’s courts for refusing to leave their land.

In June the tribunal held Zimbabwe to be in contempt of court for failing to enforce its earlier ruling and asked SADC to take up the matter urgently. But at the group’s summit earlier this month, no mention was made of this or any of the other matters bedevilling Mr Mugabe’s seven-month-old power-sharing arrangement with Mr Tsvangirai. It was a stunning victory for the 85-year-old president.

Mr Tsvangirai is in a quandary. In a speech this week, he promised to stand by the farmers. Yet he has blown hot and cold on the issue since he became prime minister. At first he said that not a single crime against white farmers would go unpunished, though no prosecutions have ever been brought. He has also claimed that the issue has been “blown out of proportion” by the press. In any event, Western donors have so far been firm. Unless farm invasions stop—and the likes of Messrs Campbell and Freeth are treated fairly—development aid will not resume.


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