If recent reports of a planned platinum-for-arms deal between Russian State corporation Russian Technologies and Zimbabwe are true, then it may be another attempt at securing off-budget financing for the Zimbabwe military, says international nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Global Witness senior campaigner Nick Donovan.
This further raises fears of a parallel government in Zimbabwe, with Global Witness reporting in July that Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) appeared to have received off-budget financing from a Hong Kong-based businessperson, as the CIO and other security agencies allegedly continue to prepare to influence the national elections, which are due to take place in 2013.
“It also shows that Zimbabwe’s people are not benefiting from the mineral-rich country’s resources,” adds Donovan.
Russian daily business newspaper Kommersant reported on June 26 that Russian Technologies might supply military helicopters to Zimbabwe in exchange for the rights to mine platinum deposits in Darwendale, a village in the province of Mashonaland West.
“Russian Technologies has already secured preliminary support from Zimbabwe’s official representatives during its visit to the country in April,” a source in the Russian Presidential administration told Kommersant.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported on June 29 that it had verified with Russian diplomats in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, that the military helicopters in question might actually be old rotorcraft that had been taken for repairs in Russia.
“The helicopters in question are old and they had been taken to Russia for repairs. That’s probably what they are referring to,” explained one diplomat.
A joint venture (JV) between the Zimbabwe government and the Russian Centre for Business Cooperation with Foreign Countries, known as Rushchrome Mining, reportedly holds the mining licence for the development of the Darwendale project. Russian Technologies allegedly seeks to obtain the right to mine at this project.
The Herald, the Zimbabwe government-owned daily newspaper, reported in July 2011 that Rushchrome Mining was set to be the country’s newest entry in platinum mining after it had indicated that it was keen to set up a pilot platinum openpit mine at Darwendale.
The mining company was in the process of carrying out an environmental impact and assessment plan.
The project, located within the Hartley subchamber of the Great Dyke, involves drilling, blasting and materials handling in an area of about one acre and 3.1 km long.
Platinum mining company Zimplats owns the Hartley platinum mine, in Zimbabwe, and states that the 2.6-billion-year-old Great Dyke is a sinuous, layered, mafic-ultramafic intrusion, which is 550 km long, with a width ranging between 4 km and 11 km.
The Great Dyke consists of four geological complexes – Musengezi, Hartley, Selukwe and Wedza.
The mining company states that the Hartley Complex is by far the largest and contains about 80% of Zimbabwe’s total platinum-group metal (PGM) resources. The Hartley Complex is about 90 km long and is comparable in size to the western lobe of the Bushveld Igneous Complex in South Africa, the source of most of the world’s PGM production, Zimplats states.
The Herald further reported that the Zimbabwe government was interested in drawing Russian investment to the mining, chemicals and construction industries, as well as the energy sector.
Russian Presidential envoy for Africa Mikhail Margelov, who was on a working trip to African countries, reportedly visited Zimbabwe between June 3 and 5 last year.
Before Kommersant broke the platinum-for-arms-deal story, Global Witness had been investigating the Zimbabwe Minerals Development Corporation (ZMDC) to identify the corporation’s partners.
The NGO had a list of all ZMDC’s JVs and took notes of all the JVs it could find in the Zimbabwe company registry.
“We found information on Russian mining companies Rushchrome and RussZim Mining, which were mentioned by Kommersant in its report on the alleged deal between Zimbabwe and Russia,” Donovan states.
RussZim was registered in 2006 and the company’s registry file includes correspondence from Zimbabwe Defence Industries registering RussZim and Rushchrome as JV partners.
“RussZim’s company secretary is Brigadier General Charles Tarumbwa, the judge advocate general in Zimbabwe, who is also on the European Union and US sanctions lists, as he was reportedly involved in the terror campaign waged before and during the 2008 elections in Manicaland and Mutare South [provinces], in Zimbabwe,” Global Witness states.
Global Witness adds that its records also include a letter from TK Maphosa, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defence at the time of RussZim’s incorporation, stating that a waiver of registration fees had been granted.
Further, Global Witness found correspondence linking him to foreign countries chairperson V Barbashov from the Centre for Business Cooperation, in Moscow, Russia.
Records on RussZim also include correspondence from Caroline Sandura, a former ZMDC chairperson, appointing Zimbabwe Defence Industries CEO Tshinga Dube to sign articles of association with Rushchrome and RussZim.
Kommersant also reports that the chairperson of Rushchrome’s board of directors is the current permanent secretary of the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defence, Martin Rushawaya.
Meanwhile, Global Witness’s research into Marange diamond mining company Anjin Investments, a JV between Zimbabwe firm Matt Bronze and a Chinese construction company, reveals that Rushawaya is on Anjin’s executive board and Tarumbwa, RussZim’s company secretary, is also the company secretary for Anjin.
The NGO says it has established that the Zimbabwe military and police control 50% of Anjin through Matt Bronze and, from the records obtained, they also seemed to have a lot of influence in the platinum sector.
Addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe Mining Revenue Transparency stakeholders workshop in Harare, the principal director in the office of Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, Dr Samukele Hadebe, called on Zimbabwe for mineral sector transparency.
Although minerals are continuously being extracted from Zimbabwe, the people remain poor, while the environment continues to be degraded, as there is no accountability regard- ing revenues, he stated.
“By encouraging transparency in this sector, we believe that the revenue flows will improve. Mineral-rich countries remain the poorest because the resources are not benefiting the whole nation.
“Accountability and transparency allow for the equal sharing of resources among the people involved – the investors and the [citizens],” said Hadebe.
The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines was not available for comment on the allegations regard- ing the country’s intentions to swop its mineral resources for defence helicopters.