Saturday, December 17, 2011

Is NYT Planting Seeds for U.S. Involvement in Zimbabwe?

When NYT runs a front page story about the evils of a dictator in a far away country, I always get nervous that it is the first step in softening public opinion in favor of some type U.S. intervention.

The NYT has such a story out today on Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe:
Tens of millions of dollars in diamond profits — perhaps more — are being secretly extracted from state-owned mines in eastern Zimbabwe, bypassing the nation’s treasury and raising fears that President Robert Mugabe is amassing wealth to help extend his 31-year reign, according to monitoring groups, diplomats, lawmakers and analysts.

Even if Mr. Mugabe’s allies in the mining ministry are telling the truth about the number of diamonds produced, the treasury was still shortchanged by at least $60 million last year, according to a budget report by the finance minister, one of the president’s chief opponents.

But the amount of money being withheld from the nation’s coffers may be much larger than that. Experts, and even some members of Mr. Mugabe’s own party, say the president’s allies are lowballing the nation’s diamond figures by millions of dollars, hoping to hide the fact that profits are being diverted for personal and political ends...

Now that Mr. Mugabe no longer controls the Finance Ministry — the result of a tenuous power-sharing arrangement to end the rampant state-sponsored violence during the 2008 presidential election — analysts say he needs outside income to finance his political operations. Diamonds offer him a rare opportunity to do that, especially now that international monitors have agreed to let Zimbabwe sell vast quantities of them, despite repeated warnings that it would enable Mr. Mugabe to tighten his grip on the nation...

The country’s defense forces, which answer to Mr. Mugabe and helped secure his victory in the last election by force, recently bought a large shipment of weapons and equipment from China, local news media reported. The mining ministry has paid millions of dollars in salary increases for civil servants outside its ranks, a form of patronage intended to win votes, according to some lawmakers and watchdog groups. And Anjin — a Chinese mining company in Marange that local and Western officials say the Zimbabwean military has a direct ownership stake in — is financing a new military academy...

The diamonds have become a vivid symbol of Zimbabwe’s conflicts. International monitors and human rights groups say the army seized the Marange fields in 2008, using “horrific violence against civilians.” The Kimberley Process, an international coalition trying to prevent the trade of diamonds that fuel conflict, initially suspended trading from Marange. But in 2010, under pressure from some of Zimbabwe’s neighbors, it authorized two sales over objections from Western powers like the United States...

The political consequences [of the diamond sales] could be stark. A military operation known as Operation Zhunde Ra Mambo, or “blessings of the chief,” financed by the ZANU-PF member who oversees the state’s interests at Marange, has deployed troops to rural areas to intimidate political opponents, according to one former opposition intelligence operative.
It's difficult to understand how the taking of diamonds by Mugabe is much different than government taxes in the U.S. Perhaps Mugabe is a little more crude in his operation, but the result is the same, the money ends up under the control of political leaders. And it is also difficult to see that how patronage jobs in Zimbabwe are different from patronage jobs in the U.S.

Yet, the uproar continues. I wonder if the ruckus has anything to do with the fact that the Zimbabwe sales are creating competition for the huge diamond dealer DeBeers, which is owned by the Rothschilds?

1 comment:

  1. "Tens of millions of dollars... bypassing the nation’s treasury and raising fears that President Robert Mugabe is amassing wealth..."

    And that's different from the Fed how? I guess only in that the Fed amasses in the trillion$ making Mugabe out to be a real piker.