The $45 million fraud


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Finance Minister Tendai Biti is always complaining that the country has no money. Reports say the 2012 budget is off the rails because the government is not going to get the diamond revenue it expected. Yet, the government has just thrown $45 million down the drain by drafting a constitution that will definitely be rejected by the people.

The instinctive reaction to this is most likely to be, well, you are lost mister. This was not government money. It was donor money. Was it?

According to the Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) website, the government was supposed to come up with a “people driven constitution”, but instead it will come up with either a donor-driven or a party-driven constitution.

People’s views gathered during an outreach programme which was meant to be part of the constitution making process were thrown out when it transpired that they were totally against those of the donors who poured in the money to come up with the constitution.

What baffles the mind is why people are surprised by this. A colleague aptly put it: “If you pay for something, you should have the outcome you want. Believing anything else in utter naivety”.

Surely, Zimbabweans should not expect a constitution they want when someone else paid for it. That is wishful thinking.

Even in Shona, there is a saying that “inyasha dzei kupukuta mwana wemvana madzihwa”. The same can be asked: Why are donors so interested in our country’s constitution?

The answer is simple. They want a constitution that is acceptable to them, not necessarily to the people of Zimbabwe. They will tell you that they want something that is internationally acceptable. You can swallow the hogwash if you wish. But who made sure that their constitutions were internationally acceptable? Are they in the first place?

So after three years, Zimbabwe is saddled with a constitution that no one is likely to want. COPAC and the government have wasted people’s time by pretending to consult them only to come up with something that was drafted by people from God knows where.

For a cash-strapped country with only one in five people employed, people must start asking themselves: why are they allowing this charade?

According to newspaper reports, $45 million has already been spent on the constitution making process. And it is not over yet. What could Zimbabwe have done with $45 million?

According to the current budget $45 million could have funded the entire budget of the Prime Minister’s Office ($18.9 million) and entire Parliament ($18.1 million) leaving enough change to fund almost the entire budget of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce ($9 million).

$45 million could have funded the entire budget of the Ministry of Mines which was only allocated $6.9 million, plus that of the Ministry of Environment ($10.5 million), plus that of the Ministry of Media ($11million), plus Small and Medium Enterprises ($9 million), and the Ministry of Science and Technology ($9.5 million).

It could have funded the entire budget of the Ministry of Economic planning ($2.7 million) and Ministry of National Housing ($33.7 million), and Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs ($10 million).

The money would have been enough to:

  • construct the Hwedza- Sadza -Murambinda road;
  • reseal the Chivhu -Nyazura, Mt Darwin-Rushinga, Ngundu -Tanganda, Bubi -Runde, and Binga -Kamativi roads;
  • regravel the Guruve -Kanyemba, Cashel Valley –Chimanimani,Mateta-Manoti,Mutoko-Rwenya,Chegutu-Mubaira-Skyline, Rutenga-Boli-Sango, Plumtree- Madlambuzi, and Binga-Sengwa roads;
  • rehabilitate the Kariba-Makuti and Harare-Masvingo roads;
  • and to construct or rehabilitate bridges at Manyame, Munyati, Little Sebakwe, Nyahodi, Runde causeway, Birchenough and Tuli.

All these projects would have cost $22.5 million, half the amount spent on the constitution.

The balance could have been used on the Gwayi -Shangani and Mutange dams leaving $10 million to go to the Tokwe – Murkosi Dam which required $38.2million.

Would this not have been better utilisation of the money? Maybe the people of Zimbabwe are getting what they deserve. Whatever happened to the government’s argument that the constitution was too important to be funded by outsiders?

The Global Political Agreement which brought the inclusive government about clearly states: “Acknowledging that it is the fundamental right and duty of the Zimbabwean people to make a constitution by

themselves and for themselves; Aware that the process of making this constitution must be owned and driven by

the people and must be inclusive and democratic…….”

What happened to this noble objective? How did the United Nations Development Programme come in? Hasn’t the government had enough of the United Nations Development Programme charade?

The UNDP has been meddling in Zimbabwe’s affairs for some time with impunity. In fact, some of the money that it is using claiming that it is from donors could actually have come from Zimbabwe.

For three years, a UNDP-owned company was running River Ranch Diamond Mine in Beitbridge. The revenue it made has never been accounted for because at the time River Ranch was barred from selling its diamonds because of an ownership dispute.

Reports even said that UNDP registered vehicles were allegedly being used to smuggle diamonds from River Ranch. So, is the UNDP really an innocent, neutral player?

 

Extract on the Constitution from the Global Political Agreement:

 

ARTICLE VI CONSTITUTION

6. Constitution

 

Acknowledging that it is the fundamental right and duty of the Zimbabwean people to make a constitution by

themselves and for themselves; Aware that the process of making this constitution must be owned and driven by

the people and must be inclusive and democratic; Recognising that the current Constitution of Zimbabwe made

at the Lancaster House Conference, London (1979) was primarily to transfer power from the colonial authority

to the people of Zimbabwe; Acknowledging the draft Constitution that the Parties signed and agreed to in

Kariba on the 30th of September 2007, annexed hereto as Annexure “B”; Determined to create conditions for

our people to write a constitution for themselves; and Mindful of the need to ensure that the new Constitution

deepens our democratic values and principles and the protection of the equality of all citizens, particularly the

enhancement of full citizenship and equality of women.

 

6.1 The Parties hereby agree:

(a) that they shall set up a Select Committee of Parliament composed of representatives of the Parties

whose terms of reference shall be as follows:

(i) to set up such subcommittees chaired by a member of Parliament and composed of

members of Parliament and representatives of Civil Society as may be necessary to assist the

Select Committee in performing its mandate herein;

(ii) to hold such public hearings and such consultations as it may deem necessary in the

process of public consultation over the making of a new constitution for Zimbabwe;

(iii) to convene an All Stakeholders Conference to consult stakeholders on their representation

in the sub-committees referred to above and such related matters as may assist the committee

in its work;

(iv) to table its draft Constitution to a 2nd All Stakeholders Conference; and

(v) to report to Parliament on its recommendations over the content of a New Constitution for

Zimbabwe

(b) That the draft Constitution recommended by the Select Committee shall be submitted to a

referendum;

(c) that, in implementing the above, the following time frames shall apply:

(i) the Select Committee shall be set up within two months of inception of a new government;

(ii) the convening of the first All Stakeholders Conference shall be within 3 months of the date

of the appointment of the Select Committee;

(iii) the public consultation process shall be completed no later than

4 months of the date of the first All Stakeholders Conference;

(iv) the draft Constitution shall be tabled within 3 months of completion of the public

consultation process to a second All Stakeholders Conference;

(v) the draft Constitution and the accompanying Report shall be tabled before Parliament

within 1 month of the second All Stakeholders Conference;

(vi) the draft Constitution and the accompanying Report shall be debated in Parliament and the

debate concluded within one month;

(vii) the draft Constitution emerging from Parliament shall be gazetted before the holding of a

referendum;

(viii) a referendum on the new draft Constitution shall be held within

3 months of the conclusion of the debate;

(ix) in the event of the draft Constitution being approved in the referendum it shall be gazetted

within 1 month of the date of the referendum; and

(x) the draft Constitution shall be introduced in Parliament no later than 1 month after the

expiration of the period of 30 days from the date of its gazetting.

(74 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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