Defence Ministry says earned $333m from diamonds

20 Apr, 2018 - 18:04 0 Views
Defence Ministry says earned $333m from diamonds

eBusiness Weekly

HARARE – The Ministry of Defence, Security and War Veterans said on Thursday diamond mining firm Anjin Investments, in which it had a 50-50 joint shareholding with the Chinese, were clean and not shadowy as alleged when the government ordered it to cease operations in 2016.

Anjin was one of the seven companies that were operating in the diamond rich Chiadzwa area of Marange in Manicaland province before the government announced it was consolidating the firms into one company now known as the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

The government at the time claimed the operations of the diamond firms had not been beneficial to the economy especially after claims by former President Robert Mugabe that $15 billion worth of diamond revenue had not been accounted for.

Ministry of Defence, Security and War Veterans permanent secretary, Martin Rushwaya came out guns blazing before the Mines and Energy Parliamentary Portfolio committee dismissing as baseless, allegations that Anjin had been a shadowy operation whose operations were not monitored and could have been used as a vehicle for looting of national resources.

Rushwaya said the company had during its subsistence of about five years grossed $332, 7 million in earnings from the sale of 9 022 million carats.

He said the operations were world class and under closed circuit television as per requirement of the Kimberly Process.

“After the mining process, the whole team (of government officials) would take the diamonds to the sorting house and MMCZ would determine the price before the auction was done,” he told the committee.

“Certification of whatever Anjin sold was done by the Minister of Mines. Every single carat was sorted in the presence of officials, sold by MMCZ on behalf of mining companies in the presence of that team.”

MMCZ is the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe which was sorely responsible for marketing the gems.

“To say Anjin was mining and nobody else knew about its operations is not true,” said Rushwaya.

“All taxes and fees were collected before the mining company was given its share. We only got the change after government took its share. It is not true that we did not pay tax, maybe there were other motivations.”

Of the amount earned, $62 million had been paid to the government in the form of royalties and other commissions, he said.

He said the firm complied with regulatory bodies such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Environmental Management Agency.

Rushwaya said the Ministry was “shocked” when they got an order to cease operations and had not even gotten to the stage of making profits from the operation.

He said the firm, though still in infancy had been forced to fork out millions to bail out students under the government scholarship program, pay interest fees for a loan for the Zimbabwe Defence University, parastatals and had even constructed 388 three roomed houses, primary and secondary school, clinic and shopping centre for people displaced from the area where its mining operations were based.

All in all, Rushwaya said Anjin spent over $86 million in social responsibility programs and still owed its workers over $1, 3 million.

“We can account for every cent of the money. Other than these, we had other military hardware commitments that we paid and we can give you to the last cent all the money that we used,” Rushwaya said.

He said Anjin was a 50 percent owner of the Golden Peacock Hotel in Mutare and LongChen Plaza complex in Harare.

Rushwaya was not happy with the way the firm’s special grant was cancelled and told the committee, “the then Minister (of Mines, Walter Chidhakwa) could have acted under improper advise because definitely that was a moment of madness because we just saw the police coming armed to close the operation without any consultation having taken place.” – New Ziana

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