Zimbabwe’s intelligence services bosses fear parliament’s bid to summon former president Robert Mugabe to provide oral evidence on the supposed missing US$15 billion diamond revenues could open a Pandora’s box – a process that once begun generates many complicated problems.
Although there has been sustained reports of massive corruption and looting at the diamondiferous Chiadzwa fields in Marange in the eastern highlands by miners, authorities, the military and illegal diggers, nobody has yet been willing to open up that can of worms. It is feared in the corridors of power Mugabe – who claimed in February 2016 Zimbabwe could have lost US$15 billion in diamond revenues – if cornered is likely to make sensational revelations on the issue which has largely remained a mystery, especially on the identities of the looters and amounts involved.
“The intelligence community is anxious about the ongoing investigation into the diamond sector. All the major mining companies have been summoned and it is the Mugabe issue which could create complications. Naturally, top political and military elites were involved. The army was involved,” an intelligence source said.
“Given the current relationship between Mugabe and Mnangagwa, it is risky to allow the process to proceed unchecked in that direction. Mugabe’s oral evidence could have serious unintended consequences: declassify information and damages big political players.”
Intelligence sources said this week that security bosses monitoring the issue feel summoning Mugabe – who told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview in March that the US$15 billion figure was plucked out of thin air – could result in damaging disclosures and stories which might cause collateral damage on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy retired General Constantino Chiwenga ahead of critical general elections.
Although Mnangagwa and Chiwenga were not directly involved in the Chiadzwa diamond mining activities, they got sucked in through their ministries: the former, while he was acting Mines minister under Mugabe and the latter through the Ministry of Defence, which had a vested via Anjin Investments Pvt Ltd.
The Independent unearthed way back that the single biggest local beneficiary of Anjin’s diamond mining revenues was the military as it controlled a 30% stake in the joint venture with the Chinese government-owned corporation, the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co Ltd (Afecc). Anjin’s shareholding structure had hitherto been shrouded in mystery.
However, investigations uncovered the structure. Anjin is a joint venture between Afecc, a large construction company which sources say is connected to the military-industrial complex in China, and Matt Bronze Enterprises formed by the Defence ministry and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. Glass Finish Investments (Pvt) Ltd, a shelf company, was used to form a thick layer of the corporate veil, which has now been pierced. Brigadier-General Charles Tarumbwa signed for Matt Bronze (Pvt) Ltd, Peng Zheng signed for Anhui.
If he goes to parliament, Mugabe will be confronted with big queries. It is said he has huge dossiers from ministries and intelligence services on who was looting diamonds. Sources said if needs be, he will release them.
Questions are still lingering over how Anjin siphoned out 3,37 million carats of diamonds worth US$112 million to China. Jinan Mining, linked to Anjin, was investigated for allegedly externalising US$500 million.
Sogecoa Zimbabwe Limited, an Anjin subsidiary, reportedly salted away more than US$255 million from diamond proceeds. Anjin has denied some of the reports, although it said it had permission to take the diamonds to China.
Anhui has run many projects across Africa, including army and police barracks in Ghana. In Zimbabwe, it built the US$98 million National Defence University along the Harare-Mazowe highway. The controversial deal was financed by the Chinese state-owned Eximbank.
Apart from the military, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) were involved.
Zimbabwean police, with the help of former Mines minister Obert Mpofu, muscled their way into the Gye Nyame Resources (Pvt) Ltd diamond project in Marange in order to finance their operations and for the personal benefit of top officers, documents available have shown.
Mpofu, currently serving as Home Affairs minister, instructed Gye Nyame to work with the police, although the police did not contribute any capital. The police later took a valuable diamond box worth millions of dollars.
CIO bosses entered into joint diamond-mining with mysterious but rich Chinese convict Sam Pa to form Sino-Zim without conducting proper due diligence. Sino-Zim operated as Kusena Diamonds in the Chiadzwa area.
Bosses of diamond companies, including Mbada Diamonds, Anjin, Gye Nyame, DTZ-OZGEO and others, as well as officials from state entities involved have been summoned to parliament over the probe.
In March, Temba Mliswa, chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee for mines and energy, said he had summoned diamond miners and government officials to appear before his inquiry into missing diamond revenues.
Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, in his capacity as former State Security and Home Affairs minister, ex-Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi and former State Security minister Didymus Mutasa were also summoned. Former CIO Director-General Happyton Bonyongwe has already appeared before the committee. Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, former Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and former Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa have also appeared before the committee.
Former Mines minister Obert Mpofu also appeared before the committee, but the hearing stalled as he refused to cooperate with the committee, accusing Mliswa of a conflict of interest. The ruling on that is still pending.
Mliswa – who has so far stayed clear of military chiefs – has warned that the committee would formally summon Mugabe should he fail to appear before it on June 11. Mugabe has so far ignored the committee.
Another intelligence source said: “If Mugabe is forced to appear before the committee, this issue might eventually explode into a crisis, with many bigwigs in top government circles and those in high-ranking military echelons exposed.”