CENTRAL Intelligence Organisation (CIO) bosses were yesterday grilled in Parliament for entering into a joint diamond-mining deal known as Sino-Zim, with Chinese convict Sam Pa, without doing a proper due diligence check on his background.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Sino-Zim operated a diamond mine known as Kusena Diamonds in the Chiadzwa area.
Kusena Diamonds board member Genius Madzingira (CIO) and Sino-Zim board member Pritchard Zhou and Kusena vice board chairperson Regiment Ruzende had a torrid time explaining to the Temba Mliswa-led Mines Committee issues pertaining to their entering into business with Sam Pa. The CIO officials also gave conflicting statements and cited their former boss Happyton Bonyongwe as the only person who used to deal with Sam Pa.
This was part of the Parliament probe to the $15 billion missing diamond revenue which former President Robert Mugabe alluded to nearly three years ago.
Unimpressed by their failure to explain issues of the CIO diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa, Mliswa accused the State spies of deliberately holding on to important information.
“You (CIO) seem to be holding on to information because there is an understanding that the security sector looted diamonds, but you are failing to give us the information. Please stop being discreet because you seem to be playing intelligence with us. You need to remove the CIO hats and put on the hats of your roles at the diamond concessions because there are assertions that you looted,” Mliswa warned.
This was after Zhou and Ruzende had claimed ignorance about the joint venture agreements between the CIO and Sam Pa. They also professed ignorance on reports that $10 million worth of equipment was donated to Kusena by their Chinese partners. The CIO owned 51% shares in Sino-Zim while Sam Pa’s China International Fund owned the remaining 49%.
Zhou and Ruzende claimed they did not know Sam Pa and that he only used to deal with Bonyongwe.
“Such issues were dealt with at the highest level of the organisation (CIO) and that question should be directed to the (former) Director General Bonyongwe because he was the one who decided on vetting. We are not aware of the donation of the equipment to Kusena and we did not know Sam Pa,” Zhou responded.
Madzingira differed: “The equipment was donated to the President’s Department and that was its equity contribution to Kusena. This was exploration equipment and could not go into hard rock and it definitely came from Sam Pa.”
Zhou said the Kusena Diamonds board never got to know the mining agreements as operations were taking place at shareholding level with Bonyongwe, who also had the explanation over issues of vetting Sam Pa.
Mliswa said Bonyongwe needs to give answers to the issues of CIO operations at Kusena as he had claimed that Sam Pa had donated $10 million worth of equipment to the CIO and yet he was in prison.
The CIO maintained that their mining venture at Kusena was not profitable, adding the $1 120 906,08 realised from the sale of 18 981,99 diamond carats was not remitted to the President’s Office by the ZMDC.