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Thursday, 3 May 2012



Mugabe's darkest secret: An £800bn blood diamond mine he's running with China's Red Army

By Andrew Malone

Dictator: Robert Mugabe's regime claimed the diamond mines as their own, using brutal methods to make sure no-one tried to take the stones
Dictator: Robert Mugabe's regime claimed the diamond mines as their own, using brutal methods to make sure no-one tried to take the stones
Across a remote tract of southern Africa, naturally ­fortified by mountains and patrolled by hundreds of ­soldiers with dogs trained to tear intruders apart, teams of mining experts are hard at work.
Yet they are not speakers of Shona, the native language of this land on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. No, thousands of miles from home, under a broiling African sun, these slim, pale-skinned figures are members of the Chinese military.
Working alongside henchmen from one of ­Africa’s most murderous regimes — headed by Robert Mugabe — the Chinese are here to ­oversee Beijing’s investment in the world’s most controversial commodity: blood diamonds.
High-ranking officials of China’s People’s ­Liberation Army, they have been striving to escape detection for their role in this blood-thirsty — but hugely lucrative — trade.
For here, carved out of the African bush, is a runway big enough for huge cargo planes. There is also sophisticated radar equipment, a fully-operational control tower and comfortable ­barracks for the Chinese officials overseeing the entire operation.
And twice a week, its wings wobbling on waves of thermals rising from this scorching corner of the continent, an Antonov An-12 cargo plane can be heard droning towards the airstrip.
The Antonov — developed by the Soviets and, like so much else, copied by the Chinese and manufactured en masse — carries men and equipment from a secret military airbase ­outside Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, whose job is to tear the gems from the earth. It deposits between eight and ten Chinese military officials, who work overseeing members of the Zimbabwean military, as well as local labour who work at gunpoint in slave conditions.
The departing flights leave with rough, uncut diamonds worth millions.
No flight plans are filed and there are no records of these trips. Such secrecy — and sophisticated organisation — is understandable. This is the centre of diamond fever, and the scene of the biggest diamond heist in history.
Here, at the Marange diamond fields in the far southeast of Zimbabwe, where four planes bound direct for China have thundered out of the secret bush runway already this year, ­astonishing natural wealth has been found in the soil. Indeed, so common are diamonds here that, for many years, local children used the ‘hard stones’ in catapults to hunt birds, not realising that they were firing unimaginable riches into the sky.
Searching for hope: Zimbabweans rummage through the dirt for diamonds before Mr Mugabe found out about mine. Now the area is considered a military zone - with people beaten to death who enter
Searching for hope: Zimbabweans rummage through the dirt for diamonds before Mr Mugabe found out about mine. Now the area is considered a military zone - with people beaten to death who enter
But stomach-gnawing poverty — life expectancy here has halved to just 35 since Mugabe came to power in 1980 — led to a local diamond rush as news spread that riches were to be found.
Professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers and plumbers as well as other workers all descended on the fields four years ago, hoping to find enough stones in the earth to survive as the country’s currency collapsed, with worthless notes blowing through the streets.
Yet all their hopes were crushed when Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the 86-year-old Zimbabwean president, and his ruling military junta, also came to hear of the rumours of such wealth.
Mugabe’s military — many of whom have been given training in torture techniques in China — reacted in characteristically brutal fashion, shooting hundreds of people, setting Alsatian dogs on others and raping women and children.
They wanted the diamonds for themselves. The carnage had the desired effect: the poor and wretched were driven from the fields, leaving the way clear for Zimbabwe’s military chiefs to move in.
Today, the fields are a military zone — and anyone caught there faces being beaten to death.
The reason for the secrecy became apparent during an undercover ­investigation at the fields, where I found conclusive evidence of ­collusion between China and Mugabe.
In an official — but highly-confidential — agreement between the two countries, the Chinese People’s ­Liberation Army and Mugabe’s ­military chiefs are plundering this diamond find, believed to be the ­biggest in the history of the world and worth an estimated £800 billion.
So vast are the riches that diamond experts believe the gems from Marange — in a country of less than ten million people — could account for more than a quarter of all ­diamonds mined around the globe, and could even trigger a massive slump in diamond prices if the stones come on the market and cause a glut.
Mugabe’s military — many of whom have been given training in torture techniques in China — reacted in characteristically brutal fashion, shooting hundreds of people, setting Alsatian dogs on others and raping women and children.
Not that the people of Zimbabwe will see any of these riches. Instead, in return for the gems, the Chinese are paying Mugabe’s thugs in guns and ammunition, ensuring his regime can stay in power despite ­international condemnation of his atrocities.
The two countries — both with appalling human-rights records — are involved in a vile scramble for loot at Marange, and there is clear ­evidence that Mugabe and his ­generals are also personally stealing millions from the trade.
Secret documents obtained by the Mail reveal that the company given the rights to the diamond fields —called Mbada Diamond Company — is fronted by Mugabe’s trusted former personal helicopter pilot, with ­Chinese military officials as silent partners.
The documents reveal that the pilot — Robert Mhlanga, who has no experience of mining — was personally appointed by Mugabe, with Chinese partners named as Deng Hongyan, Zhang Shibin, Zhang Hui, Jiang Zhaoyao and Cheng Qins. With military camps set up around the perimeter, and three separate fences erected to keep out smugglers and spies, local villagers told me appalling stories of how they have been driven from the land at gunpoint.
Soldiers set their dogs on one girl, who was mauled and killed in front of her parents. The military said this was a warning to others to keep away from the fields; at least seven people caught near the fields were killed by the military in the last month alone and their bodies dumped.
Henchmen: Members of the Chinese military are overseeing the blood diamond mine and Beijing's investment within it
Henchmen: Members of the Chinese military are overseeing the blood diamond mine and Beijing's investment within it
Lucky Sibanda, a local man, showed me the wounds on his back where he was attacked by dogs after the ­military caught him by the fields. ‘These Chinese men have hard hearts,’ he said. ‘They are taking away diamonds that could save this country. I hate them.’
The disclosures make a mockery of the decision by the Kimberley ­Process — the diamond watchdog set up in the wake of the diamond war in Sierra Leone — to allow Mugabe to sell gems from Marange — which is in the ­remotest, most inaccessible part of his impoverished nation.
And it comes as the issue is once again in the spotlight following ­supermodel Naomi Campbell’s ­controversial appearance at the war-crimes trial of Charles Taylor, the cannibal warlord who funded the bloodshed and slaughter of more than 200,000 people in Sierra Leone in a battle over diamonds.
For, while Mugabe insists these ­diamonds will be for benefit of his people, the truth is they are already being used to fund a war chest designed to keep him and his generals in power, while millions more are siphoned into their ­personal accounts.
That much was made clear to me during a chilling conversation I had as night fell this week near the ­diamond fields.
There, at a meeting in a car on deserted waste ground — set up after tortuous negotiations through a go-between — one of Mugabe’s most senior intelligence chiefs rubbed his hands with glee at the deal with the Chinese, and told me the weapons were being handed out to the ­military in preparation for a brutal new crackdown against opponents.
‘There is a memorandum of understanding between China and ­Zimbabwe — Beijing supplies ­weapons to us, and we allow them to mine diamonds.’
As well as paying a share of the ­diamond profits to Mugabe’s regime, he confirmed that China has agreed to supply military hardware to Zimbabwe.
‘It is a government-to-government deal,’ the official said. ‘It has been signed at the highest level.
‘There is a memorandum of understanding between China and ­Zimbabwe — Beijing supplies ­weapons to us, and we allow them to mine diamonds.’
Mocking the ‘monkeys in the West’ who have been outraged by Mugabe’s brutality, my source — a cold-hearted killer — predicted that the diamond deal with Beijing would mean they could stay in power indefinitely.
‘You can write 1,000 stories, and print them 1,000 times, but it won’t make any difference,’ smirked the official. ‘We have all the diamonds, so we have all the weapons — and we will kill anyone who tries to take anything from us.’
During an hour-long ­conversation, the intelligence source — whose identity I know, but who insisted I do not use his name or rank — also admitted that, without the Chinese pact, the ruling junta would have been driven from power. ‘But now we have all the guns we need,’ he said.
Of course, ­Zimbabwe is not Sierra Leone, where Taylor’s forces drove civilians from diamond fields there, brutally cutting off the arms of thousand of ­people. Mugabe, who is reported to be in poor health, is far too clever for that.
Never killing so many, or so openly, that the West would be forced to intervene, he has become Africa’s second-longest-serving leader by quietly ­terrorising the ­population, killing opponents and using his dreaded secret police, rather than wholesale slaughtering — with the exception of 25,000 members of the Ndebele tribe he murdered in the Eighties.
War crimes: Cannibal warlord Charles Taylor helped fund the bloodshed and slaughter of 200,000 in Sierra Leone in a battle over diamonds.
War crimes: Cannibal warlord Charles Taylor helped fund the bloodshed and slaughter of 200,000 in Sierra Leone in a battle over diamonds.
The country is run as a personal fiefdom for Mugabe and his ­military junta, all of whom live in palatial homes and expect a personal cut from every aspect of the country’s wealth — from road ‘tolls’ raising millions and going to their ­personal accounts, to companies set up to capitalise on the diamond find.
‘Just because they are crooks, doesn’t mean they aren’t clever crooks,’ says one veteran ­underground Zimbabwe journalist. ‘These guys were trained by the North Koreans and at Nanking ­Military Academy in China. They are thugs, but smart — that’s why they are so scary.’
To protect their wealth and grip on power, the junta runs three ­different intelligence services, ­hundreds of thousands strong. Countless opposition politicians have been murdered, not to mention hundreds of white farmers.
A human rights activist was jailed and tortured last month for giving Kimberley Process officials details of abuses at the fields, including the torture and murder of gwejas — ­illegal miners caught in the area.
The arms-for-diamonds deal between Zimbabwe and China was set up by General Constantine ­Chiwenga, a brutal killer and one of the so-called ‘dirty half-dozen’ ­military chiefs who run the country for Mugabe.
Believing the Chinese would be ‘more disciplined’ in extracting diamonds, Chiwenga struck the deal with Beijing during a trip to China last year in order to control sales for his personal benefit and that of Mugabe, who has more than £1.5 billion hidden in secret Asian bank accounts.
Already, an operation is underway to hide the bloodshed and abuses at Marange ahead of a series of ­visits planned by Kimberley ­Monitors to decide whether ­diamond sales should continue.
Mocking those ‘fools’, my source — who reports directly to Chiwenga — sniggered that they would just show officials ‘the good bits’ and would make sure that any traces of brutality were hidden.
Harare: A port close to the city ships soil from the Marange region to China, where it is processed for diamonds
Harare: A port close to the city ships soil from the Marange region to China, where it is processed for diamonds
Asked if he believed these stones are ‘blood diamonds’, the thug laughed again. ‘This is a military operation, not a civilian operation, and that means that of course they are. Are you a fool?’
Not that a worldwide ban on ­Zimbabwean stones would stop the flow of diamonds out of Marange. Gripped by diamond fever, even these Chinese ­communists are trying to make money on the side.
I watched as two Chinese officials approached illegal diamond ­smugglers at a notorious trading point just outside the Marange perimeter. They left after ­purchasing uncut gems for their own private sales.
As well as flying diamonds out directly from Marange, other shipments are taken out via a military base near Harare, while lorry loads of soil from the ­diamond fields are trucked overland to a port in Mozambique, and then shipped for processing on Chinese soil.
Asked if he believed these stones are ‘blood diamonds’, the thug laughed again. ‘This is a military operation, not a civilian operation, and that means that of course they are. Are you a fool?’
Once the diamonds are cut, the best stones for rings and other ­jewellery are sold back into the ­diamond network through dealers in India and the Middle East. ­Commercial grade stones are used in industry, helping fuel China’s rise as a superpower.
And, at a town called Manica, just over the border in Mozambique, Chinese and Lebanese dealers run an international smuggling hub, mopping up any diamonds being sold by the few gwejas still brave enough to risk their lives at  the field.
During a visit to one infamous Lebanese dealer, who was ­surrounded by armed guards, I was told simply: ‘I don’t want to talk. If you have diamonds, show me them. If you don’t have any, leave. Now.’
My gruesome military source was correct: it is impossible to police these diamonds, whatever the Kimberley Process decides.
Borders are porous; officials are corrupt. I was offered blood ­diamonds within ten minutes of arriving in Manica.
Perhaps now is the time for a new ethical debate: should diamonds now forever be associated with, quite literally, having blood on one’s hands?
Only consumers can decide; ­Zimbabwe’s dead can’t.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1313123/Robert-Mugabes-darkest-secret-An-800bn-blood-diamond-run-Chinas-Red-Army.html#ixzz1tn5VA3j0

Chinese Army generals appoint Mnangagwa successor to Mugabe

HARARE – Chinese military generals visiting Zimbabwe have effectively stitched-up a bloodless Palace coup and enmeshed themselves in ZanuPF succession by anointing the Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa successor to Mugabe in an a secret pact rubber-stamped by the ageing leader and his security service chiefs, high level sources revealed.
Together with top security service chiefs, President Robert Mugabe, his Defence Minister and ZANU PF party’s secretary for legal affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa have met at a high level secret meeting in Harare and agreed secret pact with Chinese military generals visiting the country for a military enforced transition in which the defence Minister will succeed Mugabe as the country’s next leader prompting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who got the wind from government sources to highlight the unravelling development in his Thursday briefing,
The visit by the Chinese military generals which coincided with the National Annual Chiefs Conference in Bulawayo and their overwhelming endorsement of President Mugabe’s candidacy for the next elections was all choreographed to appease the Chinese delegation.
China, meanwhile has promised military aid and a veto at the United Nations Security Council if Western countries try to frustrate the process.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga has hailed the pact.
China’s Admiral Tong Shipping reiterated the need for the two countries to continue maintaining the existing excellent relationship.
“We should maintain this good relationship which dates back to the colonial era in Zimbabwe,” said the Admiral.
Among some of the earliest cadres trained in China at the School of Ideology in Peking (now Beijing) were the late General Josiah Tongogara and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa..
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangira has said State security services chiefs will stage a coup if President Robert Mugabe does not win elections likely to be held this year.
“We have instead been told by a few individuals at the helm of these sectors that anyone other than President Mugabe, even if they win an election, will not be able to take up their mandate,” the MDC-T leader said.
For a long while, Emmerson Mnangagwa has already assumed a virtual presidency role as a member of the Joint Operations Command which was reportedly running the country in the run-up to the presidential elections runoff of 2008, according to a cable released by Wikileaks.
The cable says President Robert Mugabe was ready to concede defeat after the 29 March elections but he was persuaded to stay on by the JOC which then set in motion a violent campaign to get Mugabe re-elected.
The JOC comprised of the heads of the military services, police, and prisons, as well as Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono.
The dominant players appeared to be defence forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, and Mnangagwa.
Air marshal Perrence Shiri was responsible for military operations and security in the northern part of Zimbabwe.
Army commander Philip Sibanda was in charge of the southern part of the country.
Two committees were formed to steer Zimbabwe toward the election.
The first was a campaign and logistics committee whose members included Patrick Chinamasa (justice minister), Saviour Kasukuwere (deputy youth minister), Nicholas Goche (labour minister), a representative of the Central Intelligence Organization and the military triumvirate of Chiwenga, Sibanda, and Chihuri.
This committee was responsible for voter mobilisation, food distribution, transportation, and fuel supply.
The second committee on information and publicity, chaired by Chinamasa, was responsible for controlling ZANU-PF’s message in the state media and assuring that the Movement for Democratic Change did not have the same access to the media that it had before the March 29 elections.
Members in addition to Chinamasa included Webster Shamu (policy implementation minister), Chris Mutsvangwa (former ambassador to China), and Bright Matonga (deputy information minister).
Born in Zvishavane on 15th September 1946, Emmerson Mnangagwa is perhaps the one figure in Zimbabwe to inspire greater terror than President Mugabe.
Beginning a career steeped in intrigue and violence with the bombing of a Masvingo train in 1965, he sat in jail through the earlier phases of the liberation war, serving the 10-year jail sentence he received for the bombing incident. On his release and subsequent deportation to Zambia, he studied law until 1976 when he returned to Zimbabwe.
On his return, he became Special Assistant for Security for the Office of the President and member of the ZANU National Executive in 1977, although it was not until 1980 that he was to attain his most momentous, and most catastrophic, position as Minister of State for Security, head of the CIO.
Mnangagwa is widely viewed to have orchestrated much of the Gukurahundi genocide of the 1980s, in which those deemed to be ZIPRA cadres or simply ‘dissidents’ – around 20 000 people, largely Ndebele – were brutally and systematically murdered by a specially-commissioned army unit, the Fifth Brigade. Revealing his aims in masterminding the Gukurahundi campaign to have been the annihilation of Matabeleland and the Midlands, Mnangagwa claimed at the time that his “campaign against dissidents can only succeed if the infrastructure that nurtures them is destroyed” and that he had the impunity to raze “all the villages infested with dissidents”.
In 1985, Mnangagwa headed the suppression of the report of the Chihambakwe Commission on the first years of the violence. Earlier this year, he was met with widespread condemnation for claiming that the period of Gukurahundi was now a “closed chapter”, which the MDC of Welshman Ncube stated to be “an insult to the victims of Zanu PF’s grand plan of exterminating the Ndebele people” and which ZAPU condemned as “provocative, irresponsible and not fit to be uttered by someone who knows for sure that 20,000 innocent people lost their lives at the hands of the Fifth Brigade”.
In 1989, he became Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, a position he occupied until 2000, alongside his year-long tenure as acting Minister of Finance in 1995. Defeated in the Parliamentary elections for Kwekwe Central in 2000, President Mugabe decreed that Mnangagwa become Speaker of Parliament instead. Despite another Parliamentary election defeat in the same constituency five years later, President Mugabe appointed him to the role of Minister of Rural Housing and Amenities. After winning the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe seat in the wake of the 2008 electoral violence, he ascended a year later to his current role of Minister of Defence.
As head of the Joint Operations Command, the high-powered body that directs the government’s military strategy across Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa is widely viewed to have coordinated ZANU-PF’s campaign of torture, murder, and repression that comprised the run-off election in 2008. Former Amnesty International Director stated Mnangagwa to have “openly admitted the army’s involvement” in the brutal run-off election campaign.
In 2010, Mnangagwa was reported, alongside Jonathan Moyo and War Veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda, to be planning “a massive genocide across all Mashonaland, Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces” which the three would unleash after the proposed constitutional referendum and upcoming elections.
He has been implicated in a number of coup attempts, in which he or others have given the appearance of hoping to unseat President Mugabe and insert Mnangagwa in his place. His reputed demotion to Rural Housing and Amenities Minister in 2005 has been claimed as punishment for his implication in the infamous ‘Tsolotsho’ coup attempt of 2004. Implicated in another coup attempt in 2009, Mnangagwa reportedly had his offices raided by CIO forces as a result.
Mnangagwa is also widely touted to be the richest politician in Zimbabwe, his powerful and often clandestine business network pervading much of the country and its recent history.
In 2002, Mnangagwa was named by the United Nations as a key player in the illegal exploitation of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral resources, himself taking a cut of illegal transactions facilitated by him in Zimbabwe and recommended by the UN for travel bans and financial restrictions as a result.
These stand alongside the targeted sanctions placed upon him by the international community as a result of his role in the last decade of repressive government in Zimbabwe.
Also named in the UN’s report was Mnangagwa’s reputedly long-standing friend, John Bredenkamp. One of Britain’s richest men, Bredenkamp is a man whose history as a collaborator with Ian Smith’s pre-liberation regime sits ill with Mnangagwa’s reputed role in the liberation struggle. Bredenkamp reportedly helped the Smith regime “to purchase arms for its war against African nationalists”, and in 2006 was forced to flee Zimbabwe to escape possible arrest by the ZANU-PF government “on allegations of flouting exchange control regulations, tax evasion and contravening the citizenship act”.[9] Moreover, Bredenkamp was reported to have been “named as the main financial backer of the infamous Tsholotso indaba” and had “thrown his support behind Mnangagwa”.
Mnangagwa was also implicated in an illegal gold trading scandal in 2004, which led to ZANU-PF henchmen threatening to “shoot everyone” at the paper who had published the story and implicated Mnangagwa.
In 2009, Mnangagwa was implicated in a $37 billion foreign currency scandal as a member of the board of Treger Holdings. This followed a string of corruption allegations which had led to a ZANU-PF investigation in 2004 by virtue of his network of connections to Treger, Zidco (on whose board Mnangagwa sits), First Banking Corporation, and a host of other companies associated with ZANU-PF.[13] Mnangagwa’s faction of ZANU-PF reportedly owns a security company, Midsec, the premises of which were subject to a police raid in 2010 and the seizure of “an assortment of heavy guns, bombs, rifles, pistols and shotguns”.
Midsec forms a small part of an empire of companies reputedly seized from exiled Zimbabwean businessman, Mutumwa Mawere, by Mnangagwa in 2004.
Alleged to have been seized by Mnangagwa were “Zimre, the holding company of Nicoz Diamond, Fidelity Life Assurance, Fidelity Life Asset Management Company, Fidelity Securities, Fidelity Life Medical Aid Society and Zimbabwe Insurance Brokers”, alongside “AAM, Steelnet, Turnall, General Beltings, Tube and Pipe Industries, First Bank, Pigott Maskew, FSI, CFI Holdings, with its subsidiaries, Agrifoods, Victoria Foods, Dore and Pitt, Farm & City, Suncrest, Crest Breeders and Ross Breeders”.
Earlier last year, Mnangagwa reportedly took over formerly bankrupt wholesaler Jaggers, with branches in Harare, Chipinge, Chitungwiza, Graniteside, Mutoko, Filabusi, and Bulawayo.
Questions remain over his involvement in the Marange diamond fields, both financial and factional. Those aligned to the late Solomon Mujuru are alleged to want “to wrest control of the Marange diamonds from the faction aligned to Mnangagwa whose key figures are associated with the companies mining in the controversial area”.
In May last year, Mnangagwa was also implicated in a secret deal with the Chinese government for the funding of “a Mazoe based Military College”, “kept a secret for more than two years” and with the Chinese diamond mining company, Anjin, “believed to be the benefactor” of the deal.
In March 2010, Mnangagwa was faced with embarrassing allegations of extortion of white farmers in the Midlands province, “reportedly demanding as much as US$5 000 from each farmer so that Mnangagwa can “protect” them from eviction”. Reputed to own numerous farms himself, Mnangagwa has continued to threaten violent eviction of white-owned commercial farms through, by his own admission, the “spilling of blood”.
Despite being “taught to destroy and kill”, in 2010 Mnangagwa claimed to have “found God” and will allegedly “die in Christ” after having “found favour” in His eyes.
Alongside President Mugabe alone, Emmerson Mnangagwa stands as the deepest-rooted in the atrocities of Zimbabwe’s past. He remains the critical figure in ZANU-PF’s recent power struggles and a man widely touted for future presidency – all the more so after the death of his political arch-rival, Solomon Mujuru.
As the crocodile after which he is nicknamed, his part in Zimbabwe’s future, and the disastrous injuries it may inflict, lies in wait for the people who have so bravely suffered his historic attacks in the past. – plus Sokwanele-TheZimmail