MDC accuses diamond miner of funding shadow Zanu-PF
The shadowy operations and ownership structure of Anjin Investments, a China-linked diamond mining company in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe, has come under scrutiny from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and human rights group Global Witness. They are anxious that diamond revenue from Marange is being used to prop up a Zanu-PF-led parallel government.
Anjin, which boasts of being “the next De Beers” because it is the largest diamond company in Marange, has also not remitted revenue to the treasury in tax payments.
There are four diamond mining companies with operations in Marange: Anjin, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources and the Zimbabwe Mineral Development Corporation, the government’s diamond investment arm. They were meant to contribute $600-million in revenue to boost the official budget of $3.4-billion. However, figures from the finance ministry headed by the MDC-linked Tendai Biti show that only $30-million had been paid in the first half of the year, against expected revenue collection of $274-million.
The signs are that the budget target is wildly off the mark and a Mail & Guardian report last week signalled that Biti would be revising downwards growth targets for 2012 at a fiscal policy review in early July. Obert Mpofu, the mines and mining development minister, has defended low diamond revenue collection from Marange, arguing that Zimbabwe was adversely affected by Western sanctions and had not held any diamond auctions this year.
But his explanation has failed to impress the MDC, which is feeling the heat from the slumped economic growth and had pinned its hopes on revenue from diamonds.
A parallel government
An angry Biti told Parliament last week: “We, in the ministry of finance, now fear that there may be a parallel government to which these monies may be going and not coming to us.”
Anjin, which began operations in Marange in 2010 and is estimated by Global Witness to have produced three million carats this year, says it will not remit diamond revenue to the treasury because of a $98-million loan China extended to Zimbabwe last year for the construction of a national defence college in Harare.
It is not clear how much of the loan — which was brokered by senior Zanu-PF officials — has been paid.
Anjin chief executive Munyaradzi Machacha said it had so far injected $30-million into state coffers.
“He [Biti] says he has not received anything, which means he is untruthful or illiterate. Go ask Biti what he has done with it. He is persecuting a cash cow because he has made a calculation blunder. We have invested and we are still to break even. The $30-million we have remitted is in royalties and other obligations.”
Machacha said the company had been selling its diamonds at $60 a carat “and not $1500 as projected by the finance minister”.
“Biti should be man enough to tell the world that he made a mistake in his budget presentation on revenue coming from diamond sales.”
Political observers said the China-loan deal was a thorn in the side of the cash-strapped MDC, whereas Zanu-PF would take ownership of a state-of-the-art military college ahead of elections.
Meanwhile, the ownership of Anjin is also a source of conflict among members of the unity government. Gift Chimanikire, the deputy mines and mining development minister, tabled an ownership structure before Parliament last week that was strongly challenged by Biti. Chimanikire said Anjin Investments was 50% owned by the Chinese government, 40% by Zimbabwe Defence Industries — linked to the defence ministry — and 10% by the Zimbabwe Mineral Development Corporation.
But Biti said the corporation was not a shareholder and the 10% was held by an “unknown” military outfit called Matt Bronze. Biti’s claims are backed by a Global Witness report released last week titled “Financing a Parallel Government”, which intimates that Matt Bronze is linked to members of Zanu-PF’s ruling elite.