Mines deputy minister, Gift Chimanikire, told Parliament last week that the Chinese own 50% of Anjin, Zimbabwe Defense Industries owns 40% and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation owes10%.
But Finance Minister Tendai Biti is quoted in the Independent saying ZMDC is not involved, suggesting that there is something very fishy going on.
Speculation is about a company called Matt Bronze that was first mentioned by an international non-governmental organisation, Global Witness, which pulled out of the Kimberley Process (KP) Certification Scheme in December last year after KP certified Marange diamonds without asking who are the beneficiaries of the diamonds.
Global Witness’ own investigations had established that the Zimbabwe Military and police controlled 50% of the diamond company Anjin, which was a joint venture between Matt Bronze and a Chinese construction company.
Ministry of Defence and retired military and police members served on the executive board of Matt Bronze.
Global Witness linked a 50:50 venture between the ZMDC and a South African scrap metal company to President Robert Mugabe’s former helicopter pilot, Robert Mhlanga, who is also the chairperson of diamond company, Mbada, the reported owner of a R200m development being built in South Africa.
They also discovered that 25% of Mbada’s stake was transferred to a number of companies in Hong Kong and the Virgin Islands, but all the companies are owned by Mhlanga.
Global was concerned that diamond companies were providing off-budget finance to the military and police in Zimbabwe, which meant that the security forces were not under the democratic control of civilian rule and could use this money to fund future election violence or anything outside the control of the Minister of Finance.
Global also mentioned reports that Mbada money was used to buy 300 000 tonnes of grain from Zambia – off-budget money used to buy grain for political campaigning or violence in future elections.
Wealth generated from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamonds offered the country a chance to rebuild its economy, feed the nation and provide health and development services, but was instead not reaching the treasury and falling into private hands, and not benefiting the Zimbabwe people.
It is being stolen out from under them and the Kimberley Process, which Global Witness had helped to establish to curb the trade in blood diamonds, was not considering all this, in deciding whhether Zimbabwean diamonds were ethical.
The were simply looking at rough diamonds, but Global witness started calling for a re-definition of conflict diamonds beyond crime and abuse committed by rebels as the term had been coined in West Africa. Other members did not oblige so Global Witness quit.
The new KP, without Global Witness, has also started demanding this redefinition and Zanu (PF) is resting it. But meanwhile diamod revenue is be spirited away while government ministers do not even seem to know who is supposed to pay $200 million into the treasury and how much.
The Independent quoted Biti saying that 10 percent of Anjin is own by individuals in the military who are not paying their taxes, nor are their partners, now owing US$200 milllion, though some of Anjin obligations are said to be going towards repayment of a Chinese loan and also being used to pay for arms being imported from China.
But Biti does not know about it. He would have been aware of these arrangements and would not have blamed the diamond sector for under-performance on revenue projections if he he knew that the money was going to pay for loans and the the weapons.
The dividends are not being declared on a monthly basis as was the system that Biti said he was going to put in place in the diamond sector more than a year ago. And according to the the Independent it seems even the deputy mines minister does not know how is supposed to be paid.