This past week, President Mugabe did not fail to deliver in his normal straightforward manner. Asked by a TV interviewer on state-controlled ZBC TV who might replace him when he retired, he immediately hit back with the statement; “Do you want me to punch you to the floor to realize I am still there?” continuing, “Why ‘successor’ when I am still there?…Why do you want a successor?”.
The oldest African President who has led Zimbabwe since the country was formed in 1980, revealed that he had no plans to hand over power and that he was not, contrary to popular opinion, grooming his wife as his chosen successor. He however still defended his wife’s entry into politics and criticized the people speaking negatively about her.
The interview also had him addressing the mining companies that the government has kicked out of Marange diamond fields with claims that the country had been robbed as they had siphoned billions of dollars in gem smuggling, the country had apparently received only $2bn (£1.4bn) from an estimated $15bn (£11bn) of revenues. He said; “The state will now own all the diamonds in the country,” continuing, “Lots of smuggling and swindling has taken place and diamond mining companies have robbed us of our wealth. That is why we have decided that only the state must have a monopoly.”
The mining companies are however not taking the Presidents order lying down as the firms have gone to court challenging the order for them to leave. Mining Weekly has reported on the activities of the firms, stating that on Monday, Mbada Diamonds, the largest diamond mine in Zimbabwe, sued the government and was given back control of its mining assets. Also, Anjin Investments, a Chinese-owned mining company also took the government to the state’s High Court on Wednesday, challenging the ban. Other mining companies including Diamond Mining Company, Kusena Diamonds, Jinan Mining Limited, and Marange Resources Limited have also refused to accept the nationalization of their assets.
Mr Mugabe’s claims are also sure to raise some eyebrows among close watchers of the industry as the companies operating in Marange did so as partners to the Zimbabwean government which carried a 50% stake in each of them. The government has always seemingly appeared to be in charge of things and previous attempts by opposition parties to institute an official audit in the past have met with constant frustration.