By Staff Reporter
EXECUTIVES of a diamond mining joint venture between a Chinese firm and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) failed Monday to explain what happened to some $10m which was injected into the operation.
The money represented a commitment fee the CIO’s by the foreign partner, Chinese International Fund.
The joint venture eventually failed to take off, but legislators failed Monday to establish what happened to the cash from board members of the company.
Sino Zim executives who appeared before Parliament’s mines portfolio committee said they did not even recognise an individual identified as M Hallard who purportedly signed the agreement.
The company was registered by the Central Intelligence (CIO) and China International Fund which is owned by one Sam Pa to mine diamonds in Marange.
Board member Gift Machengete, after analysing the Hallard signature on the agreement, stated that, “This person doesn’t appear on directors (list)”.
His colleague Pritchard Zhou concurred, saying “We do not know the person who signed but we suspect it could be one of the Chinese people representing the company, but he was not a director.”
Chairman of the parliamentary committee Temba Mliswa said the agreement specified that a good faith deposit of $10 million would also be paid into a joint account co-managed by the Zimbabwe government and Sino Zim.
“This are now corporate governance issues,” said the Norton MP.
“We realise in the agreement that $10 million was paid to government for due diligence which, if not carried out, would be refunded.
“We are now asking, did government pay back since the mining operation did not take off? Where did the money go?”
The delegation went silent for a moment.
Machengete then said; “Mr Chairman, I think the permanent secretary (at the time Francis Gudyanga) who signed might know something about this. We are not sure whether all those things happened.”
He explained that the board only had the Memorandum of Understanding which did not have such details.
“This one even for us it’s the first time to see it, the one signed by the permanent secretary. Even the person who signed may have been representing the Chinese.
“We wouldn’t have known because we were not part of that.”
According to evidence presented before MPs, the Sino Zim board never sat while the Kusena one held some meetings.
The latter’s members included Jonathan Kadzura as chair, Nyasha Mandeya, Leslie Ncube and Herbert Chenyengetere.
The Kusena board was reportedly retired in 2013.