Chinese diamond mogul funding Mugabe's military: report

A Chinese magnate, benefiting from his access to diamonds in Zimbabwe, is reported to have ploughed $100 million into  the country’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to fund covert operations against the opposition, according to the latest report from pressure group Global Witness, published on Saturday.

The document , Financing a Parallel Government?, reveals that the CIO allegedly received off budget financing from a Hong Kong-based businessman at the same time that the CIO is alleged to be engaging in a campaign to discredit key members of Zimbabwe’s opposition.

CIO members exercise joint control over Sino Zimbabwe Development, a diamonds, cotton and property company in Zimbabwe. Their partner is businessman Sam Pa, a prominent member of the Queensway Syndicate, a network of companies with a track record of negotiating opaque resource for infrastructure deals across the African continent.

The report also exposes how a Zimbabwean military lawyer owns half of Anjin Investments, the biggest diamond company in Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange diamond fields, on behalf of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Defence.

“Given the violent reputation of the CIO and military, we fear that this money could fund human rights abuses during the forthcoming election,” said Nick Donovan of Global Witness. “Off-budget financing of the security sector undermines Zimbabwean democracy by subverting civilian control over key organs of the state. The international community should investigate the activities of Sam Pa, Sino Zimbabwe Development, and Anjin Investments to see whether their actions justify imposing targeted sanctions such as asset freezes.”

Information given to Global Witness by sources within the CIO suggests that Sam Pa provided funding and material to the organization as well as to Robert Mugabe's re-election bid, in return for access to Zimbabwe’s diamond, cotton and property sectors. One CIO document put this support at $100 million and 200 pick-up trucks. Two sources also told Global Witness that the money has been allocated by the CIO towards Operation Spiderweb, covert activities designed to discredit Prime Minister Tsvangarai, Finance Minister Biti, and Industry Minister Ncube, although Global Witness cannot confirm the existence of these programmes.

Anjin Investments claims to be the world’s biggest diamond miner. Previous research by Global Witness revealed how Anjin’s Executive Board members include senior serving and retired military and police officers, and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. In the report published today, Global Witnessreveals that 50% of Anjin’s shares are owned by Brigadier General Charles Tarumbwa, the Judge Advocate General at the Ministry of Defence, acting through Matt Bronze a front for the Zimbabwean military.

“Since ZANU PF lost control of the Ministry of Finance, they appear to have engaged on a hunt for off-budget financing for the military and secret police,” said Donovan. “Zimbabwe’s civilian government must exercise democratic control over the budgets of security forces. If not, there is a real danger of a shadow security state emerging, with both a monopoly on violence and secret sources of funding.”

The report came only days after Zimbabwe’s Deputy Mines Minister, Gift Chimanikire, confirmed an army-owned company holds a 40% stake on Anjin, one of the most lucrative diamond concessions in the country.