Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) secretly went into partnership with a shadowy and now jailed Chinese man to operate the Kusema diamond mine in the country’s Marange diamond fields, a Zimbabwe Parliamentary hearing was told.
The spy agency’s former director Happyton Bonyongwe told Parliament that the venture was in order to supplement the poor budgetary allocations for the CIO’s operations.
The CIO held a 49 percent stake in the joint venture known as Sino-Zim with the China International Fund owned by Sam Pa who is currently in a Chinese jail. Pa reportedly donated $10 million in mining equipment to the joint venture. The equipment does not seem to have been put to use, however, as it was meant for alluvial mining operations and no alluvial diamonds were found.
Hard rock mining was being planned when the Zimbabwe government nationalised all the mines and consolidated them under the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
The Zimbabwe Parliament’s Mines and Energy Committee, which is investigating the reported looting of Marange diamonds, wanted to know why the CIO had entered into a joint venture with a man known to have a criminal record.
Pa was reportedly a member of the Queensway Syndicate, an alliance of firms with shadowy resource and infrastructure deals across Africa. He has since been arrested in China in connection with Su Shulin, the governor of Fujian province, who as the former boss of China’s state-owned oil giant Sinopec, stands accused of having helped a relative secure contracts to build a huge oil depot in China.