THE directors of Aman Obrie Investments that owns Makwe Mines in Gwanda have accused Transport minister Obert Mpofu of duping them into selling their gold claims to his family-owned mining venture.
Makwe Mines has 36 gold mining claims.
The directors, Lungisani Ncube and Lovemore Kutamahufa, accused Mpofu of sending his two personal aides to masquerade as genuine investor representatives to negotiate the acquisition of a stake in Makwe Mines in 2012 when he was still the Mines minister.
Ncube said the two representatives introduced themselves as representing Akjert Mining (Pvt) Ltd and straight away indicated that they had been mandated to negotiate a takeover of the mine saying “their principals would want a scenario where they fully run the mine without my involvement and I was not happy with the arrangement”.
Akjert Mining is owned by the Mpofu family with the minister’s wife Sikhanyisiwe and daughter Nomsa registered as the sole directors of the company, according to a CR 14 certificate Southern Eye gleaned at the Registrar of Companies offices in Bulawayo.
Ncube said the initial proposal was for him to sell the majority of the shareholding to Akjert while retaining a 15% stake. He was also offered $100 000 monthly for an unspecified period, but he declined.
After rejecting the takeover proposals, Ncube said he then received a call from Mpofu who advised that it would be best for him to sell the mine and move somewhere else as he would have bagged a lot of money.
Ncube said Mpofu also warned him that his ministry (Mines and Mining Development) was likely to take over the mines with time.
“We started to negotiate on the selling price and I said I wanted $2,5 million,” said Ncube.
“The representatives said they wanted to consider and consult the minister and I waited for them to do so.
“On the other side the minister was phoning me to check on the progress and was also urging me to reach an agreement of sale,” said Ncube.
“We negotiated and negotiated until they dropped me to agree on $700 000.”
He said they then advised him to open a ZABG Bank (now Allied Bank) account because it would be faster and easier for them to make payments to him.
Mpofu acquired ZABG in 2012 and rebranded it to Allied Bank.
Ncube said when he asked the representatives to bring the investors so they could sign the agreement of sale, the representatives said they were appointed directors of the investors and had authority to sign the agreement.
He said they were not worried about not being furnished with Akjert Mining company documents because “we believed the minister would ensure everything goes smoothly”.
Ncube said it was only when they were following up on payments that they discovered the two investor representatives they had negotiated with were actually Mpofu’s personal driver and his secretary stationed at York House in Bulawayo.
York House is owned by the Mpofu family.
According to Ncube, the agreed purchase price of $700 000 was to be paid as follows: $150 000 upon signing of the agreement; $100 000 on or before the end of October 2012; the balance of $450 000 to be paid in four consecutive monthly instalments of $100 000 with effect from June 2013. Ncube said Akjert Mining only paid $150 000 deposit and reneged on paying the balance of $550 000, resulting in Makwe Mines going to court for recourse
When contacted for comment about Ncube’s allegations on Wednesday, a fuming Mpofu retorted: “Why are these guys coming to you (Southern Eye)? Why are they not going to settle this with the contracted company? Are you going to pay them?”
The matter is still to be heard at the Bulawayo High Court and is currently at the pre-trial conference stage. Ncube and Kutamahufa are being represented by Robert Ndlovu while Joel Pincus represents Akjert Mining.
Last year he tried to take the matter to the police accusing Mpofu of illegally mining at his claims, but was told it was a civil matter.
According to correspondence seen by Southern Eye, the matter was handled by the police’s Matabeleland South Border Control and Mineral Unit co-ordinator identified as Superintendent T Moyo.
“The office acknowledges receipt of your letter dated 27th day of September 2013 on the above mentioned subject matter,” he wrote.
“Having gone through your letter, this office has observed that the matter is of a civil nature and you are accordingly advised to approach the courts for redress.
“The memorandum of agreement of sale of the mining claims you entered into with Akjet Mining Pvt Ltd gave them the right to carryout mining operations.
“Therefore the mining is not illegal until the agreement of sale is cancelled. Respectfully referred.”