HARARE - Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader Joice Mujuru has called for a thorough investigation by the Chinese Communist Party’s graft-busting organ, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, into claims of widespread looting of Marange diamond revenue by Anjin Investments.
Mujuru’s aide, Bright Matonga, told the Daily News yesterday that ZPF would engage the Chinese Embassy in Harare about the issue after President Robert Mugabe recently made the stunning claim that $15 billion had been looted from Chiadzwa under his government’s watch.
Anjin, which is run by Chinese nationals, is a joint venture between the government’s Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and China’s State-owned Anhui Foreign and Economic Construction Company.
Matonga said Mujuru’s quest to get Chinese President Xi Jinping to look into Anjin’s operations was necessitated by the knowledge that the company was co-owned by the Zimbabwe National Army and the Chinese military, as well as the fact that “corruption is not tolerated in the Asian country”.
Xi has in the past few years gone after both high-ranking “tigers” as well as lowly “flies” in his anti-corruption drive in China.
Among the senior Communist Party officials who have fallen following Xi’s campaign include former security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful politicians of the past decade, who was accused of accepting bribes and leaking State secrets.
“We want to know from the Chinese side if they are going to take action on the company and their nationals who are said to be engaging in corrupt activities this side,” he said.
Matonga also questioned the “mega deals” that were signed by the government and China, saying that ZPF suspected that they were not meant to benefit the country, but a few individuals.
Speaking in a televised interview last month, Mugabe said $15 billion worth of diamonds had been looted over several years by mining companies operating in Marange, one of which is Anjin.
“We have not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we have exceeded $2 billion, yet we think more than $15 billion has been earned. So, where have our carats been going?” the nonagenarian asked.
However, industry experts doubt the veracity of Mugabe’s figures, with the global diamond industry trading about $13 billion a year, and Zimbabwe not among the biggest producers of uncut diamonds.
They argue that Mugabe could have once again been misled about the real state of affairs in the industry as two years ago, the nonagenarian also publicly accused former ZMDC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa, of receiving $6 million from Ghanaian investors, but was later forced to make an embarrassing U-turn — admitting that he had been fed wrong information by his aides.
According to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), global rough diamond sales have averaged $12,6 billion a year in the last decade, with Zimbabwe’s declared rough diamond output averaging a miserly $266 million per year.
It remains to be seen how the already brooding Chinese will react to Mujuru’s move, as they have since warned Zimbabwe to beware after the government ill-advisedly moved to seize all the diamond mining claims in Chiadzwa, including those in which Chinese companies have interests.
The Asian powerhouse, which has been one of the few major economies that have kept their relations with Harare warm over the past 16 years of political and economic turmoil here, told the Daily News after the government’s controversial decision was announced that Zimbabwe must respect property rights.
“We hope that the Zimbabwean side would earnestly safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese companies and employees, according to the local laws and the ‘Agreement on the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investments between China and Zimbabwe,” Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping said in a terse email response to questions.
“The Chinese side is willing to enhance communication and negotiation with the Zimbabwean side, and together create a conducive environment for companies from both sides to conduct mutually-beneficial cooperation,” Ping added.