AN investigation by a seven-member team from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) into the looting at Chiadzwa diamond fields in Manicaland has revealed cartels connected to military and political elites continue smuggling the precious mineral out of the country and salting away proceeds, The NewsHawks have established.
The team visited Chiadzwa on 9 September to conduct a weeklong investigation, which confirmed massive looting, including on claims owned by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company and Anjin.
State security sources revealed the team compiled a report for CIO director-general Isaac Moyo which named diamond looting syndicates, but the dossier was doctored to avoid exposing those close to top officials.
“The report mentioned three cartels in particular, one linked to the security sector, the other one to a politically connected tycoon who has been on an asset-acquiring spree in the past few years and the other to a deputy minister,” a state security official revealed.
“The report gave headaches to the CIO top brass, given that the kingpins of the cartels are connected to the top most powerful people in government and the security sector.”
Moyo, security officials said, was cautious after seeing the names of persons involved and recommended the tightening of security to plug leakages instead of going after the looters.
“He watered down the report because he did not want to step on certain toes,” a security official said.
“Tightening security became the priority and not nailing the syndicates.”
Rampant looting and smuggling of diamonds, particularly by organised syndicates and state actors, have characterised operations at Chiadzwa since 2008.
Companies with intricate links to the security services were among the players licensed by the government when Zimbabwe began mining diamonds in Chiadzwa.
However, the firms were booted out of Chiadzwa in 2016 on allegations of understating earnings, tax evasion and smuggling. This led to the formation of the ZCDC in 2017, which was the only firm extracting diamonds in Chiadzwa until early this year when Anjin Investments was allowed back in. Anjin Investments (Pvt) Ltd is
a joint venture between Chinese company Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co. Ltd and a Zimbabwean entity, Matt Bronze Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, owned by the military, founded on December 2009.
Besides the smuggling by syndicates, armed robbery gangs, suspected to comprise members of Zimbabwe’s security forces and some artisanal miners have also in the past raided the Chiadzwa diamond fields, getting away with tonnes of precious ore after overpowering ZCDC security in movie-style raids of the mining area.
One such heist was carried out in April last year, four months after another dramatic robbery.
ZCDC last year fired 80 employees on suspicion of involvement in the diamond heists.