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Zimbabwe's looting machine

27 Oct 2016 at 12:13hrs | Views
The curse of Africa's resources has become the blessing of the liberation struggle predatory class in partnership with the military and foreign predators.

Investigations Correspondent at the Financial Times, Tim Burgis has published a book titled "The looting machine". It is kaleidoscope of the penury of Africa caused by a coalition between an international predatory mafia and African Presidents and their predatory coalitions made up of the army, intelligence services and state institutions that are raping Africa's resources at the expense of citizens and economic development.

It is a shocking saga of the deliberate underdevelopment and theft of Africa's resources by the very individuals who claim to have liberated Africa from colonialism.

In fact in Zimbabwe, we are slightly better off than most other African States because the English colonialists left a functioning infrastructure behind which we have done our best to destroy. In other countries such as the Portuguese colonies, I hear they even took light bulbs with them as they left.

The looting machine is a well organised orchestrated partnership between China and African liberation struggle elite who initiate resource based exploitation projects in Africa fronted by Western consultants and middlemen with contacts in Africa's highest offices and families of the elite robbers.

From the DRC, to Angola, to the Niger, to Zimbabwe, nearly every African country has been duped by smooth-talking politically connected corporate criminals who peddle resource deals which significantly undervalue Africa's resource endowments; pay huge sums of "facilitation fees" through a network of fronting companies with dubious credentials and opaque shareholding structures. Billions are subsequently transferred to Asia and other secret tax havens at the expense of Africa's development.

This same template was used in the case of Marange diamond find where the World Bank estimated that Zimbabwe lost close to $12billion through illicit financial flows and murky deals that benefited the ZANU (PF) predatory cabal.

China is the main culprit where African resources are being exchanged for infrastructural project development. We now even have a case where China through its vast reserves and investment banks is buying out former colonial resource companies all over Africa and transferring vast amount of resources to China cheaply.

In return they will build roads, railways and military schools and even provide food aid as if theirs is the concern for Africa's development and poverty, yet it's really all about them. It fact that China has a plan for Africa resources while Africa like a dumb prostitute has no plan for China except to fill the coffers of a predatory elite.

No surprise therefore that whenever there is a huge find of new resources in Africa, China is somehow involved and there is a scramble by politicians to feed off the trough through facilitation fees that never reach the treasury. The resource curse, as we know it, is being fed through theft by a partnership between an international predatory cabal and Africa's leaders.

In Zimbabwe the looting machine is alive and well. This of course does not only apply to resources, but to development projects which are deliberately overpriced to feed the looting machine. In addition there is rampant abuse of public funds through state enterprise contracts as has recently been reported. Our ministers are the cogs which oil this looting machine.

The private sector is also a culprit and complicit in fuelling the looting machine. In Zimbabwe, we have several allegedly successful private companies whose success is only because of political connections. That is the nature of post-colonial Africa and no country is immune.

Unfortunately, in such cases where governments are able to plunder illicit funds from resources, dictatorships are strengthened and entrenched because they need no longer be accountable to the people. They become the gate-keepers to the feeding trough and the more chaos there is, the more power they exercise over who gets to eat.

In fact, secret resource based revenues prop up dictators and their cronies and they therefore are not accountable to the electorate nor do they need them. As a result elections become a farce to create a fallacy of democracy. The looting machine cannot afford to lose any elections and be replaced by a democratic government. That is our problem in Zimbabwe. The curse of resources is a blessing to the dictator and his cabal and a curse to the masses.

An interesting point raised by Tim Burgis in his book is that the liberation struggle elite are using exactly the same methods used by Cecil John Rhodes to subjugate Africa and its resources. They claim to be our liberators and yet by their very nature they are greedy, uncaring and defiled. Their cries against colonialists are therefore devoid of any morals whatsoever.

Clearly in Zimbabwe we have much work to do to dismantle the looting machine and deliver development to the masses. The reason why Zimbabwe is failing to unlock its vast mineral resource potential and utilise its land assets to produce enough food is not because of ignorance or failed economics, but rather because of the looting machine that thrives in chaos and patronage.

The insatiable hunger for power and money by the ZANU (PF) predatory cabal and its cronies is our curse. They have even admitted that they are entitled to utilise public funds as they wish. In other words, they are using our taxes to further oppress us and postpone economic development. The recent rant by the army on corruption is ironic because it is the army that has been at the centre of resource looting. In my opinion, Zimbabwe will never live up to its full potential until we get rid of the ZANU (PF) predatory cabal which includes the very military that is pretending to have seen the light.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. He is also Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs for the PDP. You may contact him on

Source - Vince Musewe
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