Home » Judicial » Mpofu Misled President, Court Told

Former Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu allegedly did not disclose the truth to President Mugabe about the mining joint venture that culminated in the formation of the now defunct Canadile Miners to extract diamonds in Chiadzwa. Minister Mpofu, who is now in charge of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, wrote a letter dated June 23 2009 to President Mugabe recommending the partnership between Government and BSGR Group.

But he did not disclose that the mining giant had stated conditions to be met before it rendered financial support to its contracting partner, Core Mining and Mineral Resources led by Lovemore Kurotwi.

BSGR director Mr Marc Struik communicated to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation that the mining giant would only come on board to support Core Mining after a binding agreement had been finalised and when its conditions had been met.

Minister Mpofu allegedly did not include this in his letter to President Mugabe, which only indicated that the deal had been sealed and was ready to be operational.

This emerged in the case in which Kurotwi and former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa are being charged with defrauding the Government of US$2 billion through misrepresentation.

Minister Mpofu is testifying in the case after Kurotwi and Mubaiwa indicated that he demanded a US$10 million bribe in exchange for Core Mining to partner ZMDC in mining diamonds in Marange.

Kurotwi’s lawyer, Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa, said it was Minister Mpofu who misrepresented facts and not Kurotwi and Mubaiwa.

“Did you disclose to the President that BSGR said it would only come on board if certain conditions had been met?” she said. “You are the one who made misrepresentations to the President because you did not disclose the pre-conditions to the President.”

Minister Mpofu confirmed that he did not disclose the information to the President, but argued that he had not been informed of the conditions by ZMDC.

“How could I have told the President when I had not been informed by ZMDC?” he said.

Minister Mpofu had at first refused to comment of the letter he wrote to President Mugabe, saying he did not want to comment on his communication with the President.

The letter was written to the President a month after BSGR wrote to ZMDC spelling out its pre-conditions.

BSGR’s pre-conditions were as follows:

“That the Core diligence report indicates to BSGR that the Marange Diamond Project can be economically mined in accordance with all BSGR’s internal investment criteria.

“That all legal tenure matters relating to the Marange Diamond Project area have been resolved (or suitable comfort has been provided to BSGR for the resolution of such tenure matters).

“That final agreements in respect of the Marange Diamond Project are concluded between ZMDC and Core (Mining) that are acceptable to BSGR.

“That all diamonds in terms of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and that all parties to the joint venture will adhere to the principles of good corporate governance.

“The parties will ensure that the operations are conducted in a way that is consistent with the rule of law and protects all stakeholder and shareholders’ rights.

“All stakeholders must have the opportunity to obtain effective redress for any violation of their rights.

“The parties shall ensure that there will be adherence to all anti-corruption laws. The parties shall adhere to international norms in this regard and shall ensure that no corruption practices take place.”

Mrs Mtetwa said when the June 23 letter was authored, Government had not even met the pre-conditions and that no further communication had been received from BSGR confirming that the company’s pre-conditions had been met.

Part of the letter to the President from Minister Mpofu reads:

“Your Excellency, we recommend and stand guided that we enter into partnership with BSGR through ZMDC. Subject to further due diligence investigation, the company possesses the required capacity to enhance production and exploration of the Marange project.”

Minister Mpofu told the court that when he met potential investors in the absence of ZMDC executives, he did not take into account the parastatal’s operational guidelines.

He said being a minister, he was not guided by the ZMDC Act and that the meetings were courtesy calls that did not require any minutes.

The guidelines include that which compels bidders to come up with business plans before their proposals were entertained.

The trial continues on Monday with Mrs Mtetwa expected to further question Minister Mpofu.

Source : The Herald