25 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Chinese Tycoon Bankrolls CIO, Rewarded With Diamonds

A mysterious Chinese business tycoon, benefiting from his access to diamonds in Zimbabwe, is reported to have ploughed US$100 million into the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to fund covert operations against the opposition.

According to pressure group Global Witness Sam Pa, who is based in Hong Kong, is also funding ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe's re-election bid in return for favourable access to the controversial diamond mining operations in Marange, plus opportunities in the cotton industry and property development inside Zimbabwe.

Speaking to SW Radio Africa on Monday Nick Donovan from Global Witness said part of the money Sam Pa gave to the CIO was used to buy over 200 Nissan pick up trucks. SW Radio Africa has over the years documented how most of these vehicles have been used in the abduction of hundreds of opposition activists.

Money from Mr Pa was also used to finance 'Operation Spiderweb' which included the jamming of broadcast signals from foreign based independent stations like SW Radio Africa. It also sought to undermine the profiles of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Finance Minister Tendai Biti, among many others.

With Biti complaining that Treasury was getting little or no money from the diamond mining operations controlled by ZANU PF, army and CIO chefs, it appears people like Mr Pa are effectively being used to finance a parallel government and oil ZANU PF's 'war chest' ahead of possible elections next year.

Global Witness say because the MDC-T controls the Finance Ministry the security forces have sought "off budget funding" for their operations. Mr Pa arrives "at monthly intervals at Harare airport in a white Airbus A319CJ private jet and departs with (high quality) diamonds."

Donovan told SW Radio Africa that former arms dealer Mr Pa runs a network of companies in Zimbabwe in which many CIO bosses are directors. Some of them include Gift Kalisto Machengete, Pritchard Zhou and Masimba Ignatius Kamba who are directors in Sino Zimbabwe Development.

Global Witness believe that the activities of Sam Pa, Sino Zimbabwe Development and diamond mine company Anjin Investments should be investigated, "to see if their actions undermine Zimbabwean democratic institutions or risk funding future human rights abuses and therefore meet the threshold for being placed on targeted sanctions lists."

Mr Pa (aka Antonio Famtosonghiu Sampo Menezes) and his colleagues Xu Jinghua and Sam King, hold leadership positions in a network of companies known as the Queensway syndicate. This opaque network of more than 60 companies is notorious for dealing with corrupt regimes in Angola, Guinea and other places.

The Global Witness study concluded that the "syndicate has a track record of opaque 'resources for infrastructure' deals across sub-Saharan Africa.

One report by the Economist magazine highlighted how two companies in the syndicate entered into an "ethically dubious deal with the Guinean military junta in 2009, signed just weeks after security forces killed over 150 protestors and raped over 100 women in a stadium."

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