HARARE-- Zimbabwe's Ministry of Defence, Security and War Veterans says the diamond mining firm, Anjin Investments, in which it has a 50-50 joint shareholding with Chinese interests, is clean and not shadowy as alleged when the government ordered it to cease operations in 2016.

Anjin was one of the seven companies which were operating in the diamond-rich Chiadzwa area of Marange in Manicaland Province before the government announced it was consolidating the firms into one company, now known as the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

The government at that time claimed the operations of the diamond firms had not been beneficial to the economy, especially after claims by former President Robert Mugabe that 15 billion US dollars worth of diamond revenue had not been accounted for.

Ministry of Defence, Security and War Veterans Permanent Secretary Martin Rushwaya on Thursday told the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy here claims that Anjin had been a shadowy operation whose operations were not monitored and could have been used as a vehicle for looting of national resources are baseless.

Rushwaya said the company had during its existence of about five years grossed 332.7 million US dollars in earnings from the sale of 9.022 million carats. The operations were world class and under closed circuit television as per requirement of the Kimberly Process, the international consortium of the diamond trade established to ensure "blood diamonds" do not enter the global trade in the gems.

"After the mining process, the whole team (of government officials) would take the diamonds to the sorting house and MMCZ (the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabawe) would determine the price before the auction was done," he told the committee.

"Certification of whatever Anjin sold was done by the Minister of Mines. Every single carat was sorted in the presence of officials, sold by MMCZ on behalf of mining companies in the presence of that team. To say Anjin was mining and nobody else knew about its operations is not true.

"All taxes and fees were collected before the mining company was given its share. We only got the change after government took its share. It is not true that we did not pay tax, maybe there were other motivations (for the allegations)."

Of the amount earned by Anjin, 62 million USD had been paid to the government in the form of royalties and other commissions, he said. The firm complied with regulatory bodies such as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Environmental Management Agency.

Rushwaya said the Ministry was "shocked" when it received an order to cease operations and had not even reached the stage of making profits from the operation. The firm, though still in infancy, had been forced to fork out millions to bail out students under the government scholarship programme, pay interest fees for a loan for the Zimbabwe Defence University, various parastatals and had even constructed 388 three-room houses, a primary and a secondary school, clinic and shopping centre for people displaced from the area where its mining operations were based.

All in all, Rushwaya said Anjin spent more than 86 million USD on social responsibility projects and still owed its workers more than 1.3 million USD. "We can account for every cent of the money. Other than these, we had other military hardware commitments that we paid and we can give you to the last cent all the money that we used," Rushwaya said.

Rushwaya was not happy with the way the firm's special grant was cancelled and told the committee, "the then Minister (of Mines, Walter Chidhakwa) could have acted under improper advice because definitely that was a moment of madness because we just saw the police coming armed to close the operation without any consultation having taken place".