By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
09 July, 2014
Another row has erupted over controversial comments made by a foreign diplomat in Zimbabwe, claiming that Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF have tried to create a “safe and sustainable” environment for investors in the country.
This time it is the French ambassador, Laurent Delahousse, who has received strong criticism from the Zimbabwe Social Democrats (ZSD), over comments he recently made in Mutare which the group says are “false”.
In an “open letter to the French Ambassador”, the group expressed “great disappointment” with the diplomat’s statements, insisting that “Mugabe has not created a safe and sustainable environment for investors, but the exact opposite”.
The letter, signed by ZSD secretary general Wilbert Mukori, points to ZANU PF’s indigenisation laws, which require foreign investors to sell a majority percentage of their shares to a local partner.
“This local partner that you are being forced to take on will be no more than a parasite. He will be a politically appointed person whose contribution is just to take a percentage of the wealth that you generate. No investor is going to come under those conditions,” Mukori told SW Radio Africa.
He added: “The Australian ambassador compared it to somebody swimming in the Zambezi River infested with crocodiles. That’s exactly what this indigenisation law is saying, whether you want a local partner or not.”
Mukori also points to the rampant corruption, looting and mismanagement that have been exposed at government institutions, describing it as a cancer which is “one of the root causes of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown”.
“How can Mugabe tell those below him to stop the looting when he can hold a $5 million wedding for his daughter and lives in $20 million columned hall “Blue Roof” mansion all paid for from looted wealth? His cronies are only playing catch-up with him,” Mukori said.
He explained that Delahousse reflects the attitude of the French government, who have decided to re-engage with the Mugabe regime for financial reasons, ignoring human rights abuses and the lack of reforms that the E.U. had called for.
“These governments want a piece of the action in Zimbabwe’s diamond industry. That is the bottom line. And they don’t want to miss out while the Chinese and others make financial gains, while ignoring democracy,” Mukori said.
The comments by Delahousse have come in the wake of a diplomatic row involving the E.U. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia, who was also blasted last month for claiming there was no leadership crisis in the country.