Home » Judicial » Mpofu Scoffs At Bribery Accusal, Minister Mocks Kurotwi, Mubaiwa, Denies Demanding U.S.$10 Million

Former Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu yesterday denied demanding a US$10 million bribe to facilitate a diamond mining deal, saying he is a successful businessman with the potential to employ the people behind the accusations.

He mocked his accusers –Core Mining director Lovemore Kurotwi and former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa — that he would not even ask for a bottle of water from them, let alone the US$10 million bribe since he knew their status.

Minister Mpofu was testifying in the case in which he is accused of demanding the bribe from the two.

He said he had the potential to employ Kurotwi and Mubaiwa and there was no way he could have demanded such an amount for the deal to sail through.

Minister Mpofu, who is now in charge of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, said it was unbelievable that Kurotwi accused him of soliciting for the bribe.

Kurotwi, who is jointly charged with Mubaiwa for defrauding the Government of US$2 billion, raised the allegation in his defence outline, saying his prosecution was a result of refusing to pay Minister Mpofu the US$10 million kick-back.

Kurotwi and Mubaiwa allegedly misrepresented to the Government that Core Mining was a special purpose investment vehicle of an internationally recognised mining giant, BSGR.

This saw the Government partnering an undeserving company to form Canadile Miners to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa.

It later turned out that BSGR had nothing to do with Core Mining and that the firm had no capacity to bankroll the project as promised.

To that end, the Government claims, it suffered prejudice to the tune of US$2 billion.

In their defence, Mubaiwa and Kurotwi alleged Minister Mpofu demanded US$10 million for the transaction, insinuating that he had “dirty hands.”

Kurotwi told the court that he had disclosed the bribery case to President Mugabe, resulting in Minister Mpofu engineering his arrest and prosecution.

Minister Mpofu described the US$10 million bribery allegations as a drama and a joke performed by Kurotwi and his lawyer Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa.

“It is a serious joke that he (Kurotwi) would make this allegation, which he did not make before the President,” he said. “It is drama by Mai Mtetwa and her team and it is just the nonsense that people say when they are in a tight corner.

“I know Kurotwi, and considering my status, I would not even ask for a bottle of water from him let alone the US$10 million.”

Minister Mpofu said Kurotwi and Mrs Mtetwa dragged his name through the mud with the intention of creating news for the media.

“It was just some drama meant for the consumption of the media and the whole thing is nonsensical,” he said. “I am a businessman who has been operating for a long, long time. I can even employ these guys (pointing at Kurotwi and Mubaiwa who were seated in the dock).”

Minister Mpofu said the allegations that he demanded a bribe in Shona were false because he was not conversant with the language by virtue of being Ndebele.

Minister Mpofu, according to Kurotwi’s defence outline, is said to have demanded the bribe on two occasions and at one time he was quoted as saying:

“Vakomana ini ndapedza rangu basa. Chindipai mari yangu”. Loosely translated as “Gentlemen, I have done my part, can you now pay me?”.

Minister Mpofu said he honestly believed that the company they were dealing with was BSGR only to discover that ZMDC had drafted a second agreement with the name Core Mining.

He blamed Mubaiwa for failing to update him on the changes to the agreement and that the second agreement was never forwarded to the ministry as required.

Minister Mpofu said he discovered the scandal some six months after the signing of the agreement and he ordered an internal investigation, resulting in the arrest of Kurotwi and Mubaiwa.

Mrs Mtetwa objected to the production of an affidavit linking Kurotwi to the offence, saying it was not a proper affidavit.

She said the affidavit was deposed by Mubaiwa, hence in terms of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, that could not be used as evidence against her client.

Aocate Lewis Uriri, who was representing Mubaiwa confirmed that the document was crafted by his client, but said it was never commissioned.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu is expected to rule on the objection today before Minister Mpofu winds up his testimony.

Source : The Herald