Home » Business » Minister Mpofu Grilled in Court – Single-Handedly Ran ZMDC Without Board – No Minutes On Meetings With Investors

FORMER Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu once single-handedly ran the affairs of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation after dissolving its board and held several meetings with investors for which he did not take minutes. Minister Mpofu said this at the High Court yesterday under cross examination in the US$2 billion fraud case involving former ZMDC chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa and Core Mining director Lovemore Kurotwi.

Minister Mpofu said at times his officials would take notes, while he also scribbled on a piece of paper during the meetings.

The minister said he did not have minutes of the meetings, including four which he held with Kurotwi who is accusing him of demanding a US$10 million bribe.

Asked whether he kept minutes of the meetings with potential investors for the four months that ZMDC operated without a board, Minister Mpofu said: “No”.

“We do not keep minutes in the ministry, but notes of what the investors would have come for.”

The minister said he was not obliged to show the notes to Kurotwi’s lawyer Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa.

“Most people I met would be simply inquiring and at times officials would take notes,” he said.

“I have some notes, but I am not obliged to give them to you.”

The court heard from Mrs Mtetwa that Minister Mpofu single-handedly ran the affairs of ZMDC between February 20, 2009 and June 13, 2009 when the ZMDC board had been dissolved.

But Minister Mpofu dismissed the claims, saying it was actually the ministry that took over, and not him as an individual.

Asked whether it was lawful for the ministry to run the affairs of parastatals in the absence of the board, Minister Mpofu said: “That is an unfair question because I am a layman . . . I am not a lawyer.”

Minister Mpofu said his first meeting with Kurotwi over the diamonds mining deal was in Bulawayo when he travelled with two “white men” that he introduced to him as his partners.

Minister Mpofu said he went alone for the meeting in Bulawayo, but they met on three other occasions in his office in Harare.

Asked whether or not he invited ZMDC senior management for the meetings with investors, Minister Mpofu said at times they would be present.

He dismissed allegations that he sidelined his former permanent secretary from the affairs of ZMDC during the four months when the board was not in existence.

“The secretary is the chief executive of the ministry and if he allows himself to be sidelined, then it shows he is not worth his salt. That is false and there was no way that could have happened.”

The trial took a new twist with the court admitting the production of Mubaiwa’s statement in which he was nailing his alleged accomplice Kurotwi.

Mubaiwa and Kurotwi stand accused of misrepresenting to Government that Core Mining was a special purpose vehicle for an internationally-recognised mining giant BSGR Group, prompting ZMDC to sign a joint-venture agreement with the company.

A joint venture company, Canadile Miners, was formed but the operations were shortlived after Core Mining failed to meet its obligations to fund the projects and Government discovered that BSGR had nothing to do with the deal.

To that end, Government claims it suffered potential prejudice of US$2 billion through the alleged misrepresentation.

Mubaiwa’s statement was produced as exhibit 34 in the trial and it alleged that Kurotwi and his colleague called Yehuda Litchi duped ZMDC into signing the agreement on the understanding that Core Mining was truly a special purpose vehicle for BSGR.

Prior to the production of the statement, Kurotwi’s lawyer Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa had tried to block it, arguing that the document was a fake affidavit.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu dismissed the request, arguing that Mubaiwa did not dispute the contents of the statement and that the contents were in line with his defence.

Source : The Herald

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