$10m bribe: Mpofu hits back

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Obert Mpofu

TRANSPORT minister Obert Mpofu, yesterday bragged before High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu that he was rich and would not stoop so low as to demand kickbacks from prospective miners.

CHARLES LAITON
SENIOR COURT REPORTER

Mpofu was responding to claims that while he was Mines minister he demanded $10 million from Core Mining and Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi as kickback for a diamond mining claim in Chiadzwa five years ago.

The Umguza MP said he had been a businessman for many years and was so rich that he could even employ Kurotwi and his co-accused former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa.

Mpofu said the allegation levelled against him by Kurotwi was “a well-choreographed drama instigated by his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa” in a move meant to please the media.

The minister made the remarks after chief law officer Chris Mutangadura suggested to him that Kurotwi had denied in his defence outline ever causing the government a $2 billion potential investment prejudice in the Chiadzwa deal.

Kurotwi claimed the minister wanted to fix him through the current charges for refusing to pay a $10 million kickback.

“It’s a serious joke that he would say something like that, but anyway he never said it to the president; that is drama that has been well-choreographed by Mtetwa,” he said.

“He didn’t say that (to the president). That’s nonsensical. People always say that when they are cornered. I would never even ask for a bottle of water from him. I take great exception to that allegation.”

Asked to comment on claims he said in Shona “gentlemen I have done my part now give me what is due to me”, Mpofu said: “I am not conversant in Shona. All my colleagues have never heard me say things in the manner he dramatised it.

“That’s just some drama meant for the consumption of the media. Had something of that sort ever happened I would not have been in employment by now.”

Mutangadura also asked Mpofu to clarify on the meetings he was alleged to have held with Kurotwi in South Africa.

“I did not see him in South Africa and I don’t remember seeing him ever. The whole thing is nonsensical,” he said.

“I have no reason to lie. I am a minister. I do not lie, I have been a businessman for a long time and I can employ these guys.”

Mpofu said the fraud allegations against Kurotwi and Mubaiwa arose after the two allegedly tampered with a mining agreement that had been drafted by the Attorney-General’s Office in a joint venture between Marange Resources and an Israeli firm BSGR.

The minister said he had issues with Mubaiwa, who was an employee under his ministry and had allowed the process to be compromised.

“Allowing that process to be compromised was improper, it was done without clearance from his superiors,” Mpofu said.

“I do not know how they related to each other, but my reference is with accused one (Mubaiwa) who was supposed to advise me properly.”

The minister said he instigated investigations of the two men after receiving several reports of some directors that had been arrested for dealing in diamonds.

The trial continues today with Justice Bhunu expected to deliver a ruling on an application by the State for admission of a document authored by Mubaiwa that is being challenged by Kurotwi. Mubaiwa is represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri.