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DHUMISANI KARAKADZAI - POLITICAL ANALYST

Mugabe and ZANU (PF) trading Zimbabwe’s natural resources for personal and electoral gain

By: DHUMISANI KARAKADZAI

According to South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, elusive business magnate Sam Pa and CIO chief Happyton Bonyongwe have struck a deal, which sees Pa financing “a covert operation whose purpose is to sustain President Robert Mugabe’s regime.” The newspaper quotes “disillusioned intelligence officers and party officials,” who are said to be “unhappy” about how Zimbabwe’s natural resources are being traded for “personal and electoral gain.” 

These sources allege that in return for Zimbabwe’s diamonds and other mineral resources, Pa has provided funds and equipment to the CIO to enable it to deliver ZANU PF an electoral victory. The money is reportedly being used to train and deploy militias who are harassing and intimidating Zimbabweans across the country. It is also understood that Pa has provided the technology to rig election outcomes in ZANU PF’s favour, a tool the party has repeatedly used to “win” previous elections.

The Sunday Times reports that Pa is also responsible for personally providing the CIO with fleets of cars and, in early 2010, he offered to match the salaries of the entire staff of the CIO, the police and the armed forces to ensure their loyalty to ZANU PF. 

Bonyongwe meanwhile stands accused of keeping this relationship well oiled, after ‘negotiating’ Pa’s involvement in the Chiadzwa diamond fields. Pa is said to be behind the creation of the joint-venture Sino Zim Development, which was recently granted a licence to mine at Chiadzwa. The sources told the Sunday Times that using different aliases, Pa had flown out of Harare and military airbases last year with about 60 000 carats of high quality diamonds and 69kg of the industrial kind. Quoting “renegade CIO sources,” the Sunday Times said that Pa himself “is part of the grand plan to use (Chiadzwa) diamonds to prop up the regime.”

HAPPYTON BONYONGWE -The director of the Zimbabwean government spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). He is a retired Brigadier in the Zimbabwe National Army. Under his leadership, the CIO has become more potent, with countless citizens vanishing or dead at the hands of CIO agents.

The business magnate, described as ‘elusive’ and ‘canny’, is reported to have made similar arrangements in other African countries. Oil-rich Angola is described by the Sunday times as “a prime example.” Pa has also invested heavily in mineral-rich Guinea and Tanzania, while Madagascar has also been linked to the Hong Kong based businessman. 

China’s influence in Zimbabwe is strengthening all the time, and it is understood that the Development Bank of China is planning US$10-billion worth of investments in Zimbabwe over the next five years. Last week, Chinese merchant Sinotex announced a US$500-million cotton production deal, set to benefit the ZANU PF beneficiaries of Robert Mugabe’s land grab. At the same time, Zimbabwe’s biggest tobacco buyer is a Chinese firm, Tian Ze, while the Chinese agribusiness Beidahuang Group is said to be negotiating for Zimbabwe’s cane and forestry estates.  The China National Nuclear Corporation is also said to be prospecting for uranium in Zimbabwe. 

The groups are all set to be exempt from ZANU PF’s indiginisation plans, with tobacco firm Tian Ze already confirmed to be spared from handing over 51% ownership to Zimbabweans. South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper recently asked ZANU PF’s Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere how companies qualify for such exemptions, and he said: “We look at their disposition towards our people.” 

Makumbe said that ZANU PF will make every effort to maintain its relationship with the Chinese, not only because the country is one of Mugabe’s key supporters on the United Nations Security Council. China has used its position as a permanent member of the Security Council to block any action against the ZANU PF regime. 

“It is a mutually beneficial arrangement, especially because ZANU PF is desperate for survival. They won’t win an election without electoral rigging and they need people like Sam Pa to make that happen,” Makumbe said.
According to the party conference Zimbabweans must have a stake in all diamond claims in the country, as indeed they should in all minerals, regardless of who owns them currently. The party spokesman said the plan should be implemented right away and they felt as 2011 should be a turning point in the overall indigenisation and empowerment drive.

The diamond fields in Marange communal lands have already been nationalised and handed over to a government-appointed consortium, which includes a Chinese company and Mbada, a Zanu (PF)-linked company run by the military.
Human Rights Watch and the group Partnership Africa Canada say the Kimberley Process monitor responsible for Zimbabwe has ignored gross human-rights abuses in the Marange area.  The human-rights groups say the diamond fields have been “militarized” by Mugabe’s security chiefs.

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