HomeOpinionOff-budget CIO funding threatens democracy

Off-budget CIO funding threatens democracy

THE Zimbabwe Independent, which has over the years been investigating the goings-on at Marange diamond fields, carries the fourth instalment of the latest Global Witness report: Financing A Parallel Government?, which makes interesting revelations about Chiadzwa.This week the report by the UK-based non-governmental organisation which campaigns against natural resources-related conflict, corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses exposes how off-budget financing of Zimbabwe’s security forces could result in human rights abuses in the next elections, thus threatening democracy.

The Global Witness report sheds light on activities unfolding at Marange diamond fields, detailing who is involved and the intricate networks comprising the Chinese and Zimbabwe’s security forces dealing in diamonds, cotton and property sectors.

SAM Pa’s apparent support for the CIO may undermine Zimbabwean democracy directly. According to a source within the organisation, the CIO has allocated funding from Sam Pa towards:

  • The planned construction of a CIO training college. This is not to be confused with the National Defence College being constructed by Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) and paid for with the profits from Anjin Investments (Pvt) Ltd;
  • l Two covert operations termed Operation Black Hawk and Operation Spiderweb, designed to discredit Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai, Finance minister Tendai Biti, and Welshman Ncube ahead of the next election;
  •  The training of CIO operatives to jam the radio stations Voice of America and SW Radio Africa. The jamming is said to take place from a location in Hillside, Harare, off Chiremba Road;
  • The training of South Sudanese intelligence operatives by the CIO at the CIO training academy in St Patricks Road, Hatfield in Harare, and in Juba, South Sudan.

The existence of Operation Spiderweb has been independently confirmed by a senior Zimbabwean government official. We have not been able to corroborate the existence of other programmes, including Operation Black Hawk.
Moreover, even if these programmes exist, it is difficult to directly link one source of finance with a particular programme as funding can be fungible.

Further, even if true, there is no evidence to suggest that Sam Pa was aware of how his donation was spent, although he could have reasonably foreseen such expenditure, given the poor reputation of the CIO.
Nevertheless, if it is true that the CIO is engaged in covert activities to discredit senior politicians from the MDC, then this has the propensity to directly undermine Zimbabwean democratic processes and institutions.
Sam Pa’s apparent financial support for the CIO could fund future human rights abuses. It is also possible that off-budget financing of the CIO could fund future human rights abuses in the run up to the next election. Local human rights groups have compiled detailed reports setting out how members of the CIO were involved in organising the violence in the 2008 elections, which focused on supporters of the opposition MDC. For example:

  •  In Muzarabani North and South and Mazowe North, a CIO operative was allegedly in charge of local bases where victims were murdered;
  • In Mount Darwin South, a senior CIO official is alleged to have part financed the Zanu PF district office which organised the violence in the district;
  • In Makoni South, a CIO operative was allegedly in charge of a local base at which an MDC supporter was beaten;
  • In Nyanga North, a CIO operative was in charge of the DDF Ruwangwe base from where MDC supporters were allegedly intimidated;
  • A CIO official was sued by the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina Mukoko, for his alleged role in her abduction and torture in 2008

More recently, unconfirmed news reports have identified CIO agents using Nissan pick-up trucks in a number of alleged human rights violations:

  • In January 2012, a mechanic, Bornface Mvemve, was test driving an MDC-owned vehicle in Msasa, Harare. It was reported that, as he was driving, a grey Nissan Hardbody double cab with no number plates overtook his car and suddenly blocked his way. Three men assaulted him, poured beer over him, smashed the MDC vehicle’s windows and then left the scene.


  • In January 2011, an MDC activist Julius Mutavira Gono of ward 10, Madzimure village, Chiredzi South constituency was reported to have been beaten in broad daylight by three members of the CIO who drove to his house in a Nissan twin cab with unmarked plates.


  • In August 2011, three CIO agents who were reported to be intimidating MDC activists ahead of constitutional outreach meetings in the Chipinge, Chipinge South and Musikavanhu constituencies used white Nissan double cabs (registration plates supplied).

After the exposure of these registration details by SW Radio Africa, the number plates were removed by the CIO.
While there are some similarities between these reports, it is impossible to know whether these are the same vehicles donated by Sam Pa to the CIO.
The next election will inevitably lead to heightened political tensions. While abuses are not inevitable, Zanu PF’s use of violence as an electoral strategy during past elections means that there is a risk that CIO agents will be deployed to intimidate and attack political opponents.
Global Witness previously wrote about Anjin Investments (Pvt) Ltd in the briefing Diamonds: A Good Deal for Zimbabwe? Here, we restate some of the evidence setting out the extent of Zimbabwean military and police control of the company and introduce new evidence on the ownership of Anjin.
The discovery of diamonds at Marange in 2006 resulted in the arrival of thousands of small-scale miners. This period was characterised by violence, smuggling, corruption and intimidation of diamond diggers. In the autumn of 2008, the government launched Operation Hakudzokwi or “You will not return” — designed to secure the Marange diamond fields for government control. Soldiers, police and helicopter gunships were deployed, resulting in the killing and wounding of many artisanal miners.
After Operation Hakudzokwi, the government began to grant concessions in Marange. The first to receive concessions were two previously unknown firms Mbada Diamonds (Pvt) Ltd and Canadile Miners (Pvt) Ltd. Fifty percent of Mbada is owned by Grandwell Holdings registered in Mauritius, and 49,99% of Grandwell is now owned by Transfrontier Mining, in turn owned by a network of companies registered in secrecy jurisdictions.

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