MDC-T Treasurer General Roy Bennett has insisted that a controversial loan to the Robert Mugabe regime in 2008 secured the bloodstained election victory that year, also warning that a similar situation is very possible in future elections.

Bennett’s comments come as details continue to surface about the international investor behind the US$100 million dollar loan, which made headlines in 2008 after the internationally listed company behind it was accused of directly financing a dictatorship.

The story has now resurfaced after an investigation by the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa discovered that a US institutional investor financed the 2008 loan.

The alarm was raised in 2008 when Anglo American Platinum ceded about a quarter of its Zimbabwean concession to the ZANU PF government, after threats and intimidation by the CIO. According to Bennett, who spoke to SW Radio Africa on Tuesday, Anglo American capitulated to the demands instead of exposing the extortion they were facing.

The ZANU PF government then awarded the platinum concessions to a group called Todal Mining, a joint venture between the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and a private company called Lefever Finance. This company in turn was owned by a shadowy group based in the British Virgin Islands and linked to controversial businessman and ZANU PF functionary Billy Rautenbach.

This all happened a week before the first round of presidential elections in 2008 in Zimbabwe, and it now appears this was part of a strategic game plan to secure ZANU PF’s hold on power. Bennett explained that the party was “up against a wall, the country was falling apart, and they did not have the money to ensure a victory.”

The elections went ahead but the results were withheld amid widespread reports that the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won the crucial poll. ZANU PF however was busy implementing its plan and, less than two weeks after the vote, Lefever Finance was bought out by a shady outfit called the Central African Mining and Exploration Company (Camec), for about five million dollars. Camec, whose founder was reportedly allied to Rautenbach, also threw in the US$100 million dollar loan that became Mugabe’s lifeline.

The Mail &Guardian has since revealed that Camec did not actually have the money to buy out Lefever and instead issued and sold new shares. This side of the deal, which essentially financed the Mugabe regime, was kept hidden. But the Mail & Guardian has discovered that the shares were bought by the New York-based Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, founded by billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthropist Daniel Och.

The loan payment meanwhile coincided with the controversial docking of a Chinese ship filled with arms, which docked in South Africa with its deadly shipment bound for Zimbabwe. An international campaign to bar the ships progress then followed, and Camec found itself embroiled in allegations that it was involved in arms deals.

What followed in Zimbabwe was an exercise in systematic murder, torture, brutality, intimidation and harassment by ZANU PF, ahead of an election run off, which eventually went ahead with Mugabe as the single participant after Tsvangirai had no choice but to pull out of the vote.

Bennett said on Tuesday that without the loan things would have turned out very differently in Zimbabwe, saying ZANU PF did not have the finances to unleash its brutal campaign.

“You would never have been able to get the military and the militias to do what they did without money. You would never have been able to even start the ZANU PF election machinery without that money. All the heartache, pain, violence, intimidation, repression in 2008 is directly linked to that 100 million,” Bennett said.

Bennett meanwhile also warned that unless Zimbabweans “stand up and seize change,” the same scenario was likely to play out in the coming elections.

“I guarantee you the same thing is happening now. There are deals going on to fund the next elections in the same manner with same people being extorted through indigenisation. ZANU PF are masters at extorting people in a legitimate manner,” Bennett said.

(Source)