BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
CENTRE for Natural Resource Governance executive director Farai Maguwu has warned that the possible oil findings in Muzarabani could lead to conflict.
Recently, the Britain-based independent oil consultancy firm, ERCE, updated the estimated oil reserves at the Cabora Bassa Basin in the Muzarabani district run by Australian oil and gas firm Invictus Energy to 4,3 billion barrels of oil from 1,6 billion barrels initially.
However, given the country’s poor history with commodities such as diamonds where the former late Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe stated that US$15 billion worth of the precious jewel was looted, fears have emerged that something similar could happen with oil.
“We are almost four years into the current government, has anything changed to say diamond revenue benefits the Marange community? Has anything changed in terms of transparency and accountability?” Maguwu said, in an interview with NewsDay.
“We need to sit down and look at what happened in Marange before we talk about Muzarabani. There is also a need for Zimbabwe to realise the fact that, of the countries that discovered oil, most of them have not known peace.”
He continued: “Oil has been a source of conflict and inequality and even sponsoring dictatorships and bad governance in countries like Nigeria so there is a need for Zimbabwe to study those case studies, identify the reason oil has failed to transform in the economies of those countries.”
Muzarabani is located in Mashonaland Central province along the Mozambique/Zimbabwe northern border.
The recent discovery and government’s push to get the project off the ground comes amid renewed interest in African oil from Western nations.
This is due to these Western countries looking for alternative fuel, especially European nations that have been relying on Russian oil and gas but stopped due to the latter’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Maguwu said before exploring the oil and gas potential in terms of generating wealth for Zimbabwe, there needs to be an examination of how US$15 billion worth of diamonds disappeared over several years from Marange.