GOVERNMENT and Zanu PF got millions of United States dollars at the expense of wider communities from Mbada Diamonds’ US$35 million corporate social responsibility budget, which funded, among many others things, ruling party conferences, President Robert Mugabe’s birthday and the security establishment as well as politicians instead of key social delivery institutions such as schools and hospitals.
By Elias Mambo/Obey Manayiti
This news article is part of an ongoing ground-breaking investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plundering at various stages by state and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund.
Despite government complaining that the diamond money did not cascade down to the people, documents in possession of the Zimbabwe Independent show that Mbada splurged US$1,3 million to fund Zanu PF’s annual conference held in Chinhoyi in 2013, while the security establishment also got large sums of cash to sponsor their activities.
The Independent can reveal that the Central intelligence Organisation shooting competition got US$110 000, Commander Air Force Charity Fund (US$72 000), Commissioner of Police Cheer Fund (US$50 000), the Zimbabwe National Army Charity Race Fund (US$142 000) and the Presidential Medal Shoot competition US$500 000.
Just before the 2013 general elections, Mbada gave government US$11,7 million. A number of senior Zanu PF politicians and MPs were given money to campaign.
Before the elections, the diamond company also sponsored the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference in Victoria Falls in 2013 as it pledged US$2,5 million, but paid US$1,6 million. The UNWTO was co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August 2013 where more than 65 countries were accredited to attend the weeklong event in Victoria Falls and Livingstone (Zambia).
Documents show that Mbada resolved that “the corporate supports the presidential medal shoot each year”.
“The shoot assists in providing a platform for the security forces to improve their marksmanship which will ultimately enhance national security,” one document reads. “A total of US$1 000 000 has been pledged with US$100 000 tranches towards the total figure paid every year.”
Documents also show that Mbada generously funded Zanu PF politicians and helped run their election campaigns by donating heavily in their preferred constituencies. Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa received funding to build the Sabina Mugabe Memorial Secondary School to the tune of US$1,3 million in his Zvimba North constituency, while the Information minister Chris Mushowe got US$32 000 to run the Manicaland Mushowe Cup schools competition.
At the Sabina Mugabe Memorial Secondary School (the late Sabina was the president’s young sister), Mbada funded the construction of five classroom blocks, 20 toilets, two boreholes, a computer laboratory and an administration block.
Besides funding Zanu PF and the security establishment, Mbada also financed the lucrative Mbada Cup to the tune of US$6,5 million and also poured US$1 145 400 into the Aviation Training Academy of Zimbabwe (Ataz). It gave money to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) for the construction of accommodation and the procurement of furniture for its airport base.
Ataz was built at the Harare International Airport for training purposes and was handed to the government.
Mbada also built accommodation units for the ZRP Minerals Unit officers manning the sorting and evaluation offices at Harare International Airport. The state-of-the art buildings include equipment, furniture and a generator.
On the US$6,5 million Mbada Cup sponsorship, documents show that “a total of US$2,5 million was used each year and this changed the face of local football”.
Mbada also refurbished and constructed classroom blocks at the Kutama Farm Secondary School in Zvimba, Mugabe’s home area.
“The school was officially opened by His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe RG Mugabe,” the documents add.
Investigations also showed a number of Zanu PF politicians were given money by Mbada for various activities, ranging from campaigning, hospital bills and general upkeep through the public relations budget designed to spruce up the image of the company.
In 2013, the then Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro and four others were dragged to court over the abuse of US$750 000 from diamond mines, Mbada included, which was meant for a donation towards Mugabe’s birthday.
Documents seen by this paper also show that Mbada donated US$900 000 towards Mugabe’s 21st February Movement celebrations. It also gave cars to government agencies. In January 2014, Mbada declared that it had reached the US$1 billion mark in total gross revenue.
In its financial statement, Mbada said that it paid government close to half a billion dollars (US$424 million, which later rose to US$472 million) in taxes, dividends and advances, corporate social responsibility (US$35 million), capital expenditure (US$214,5 million), direct production-related expenditure (US$225,6 million) and operation costs (US$138 million).