HomeLocal NewsMpofu in gem ‘bribes’

Mpofu in gem ‘bribes’

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Canadile Miners director Lovemore Kurotwi told President Robert Mugabe that Obert Mpofu, the Mines and Mining Development minister, solicited bribes from him to facilitate smooth operations of the diamond mining company.

It has also emerged that Mpofu is the one who recommended to President Mugabe that Core Mining be allowed to enter into a partnership deal with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corperation (ZMDC) to exploit diamonds in Chiadzwa after a due diligence by the state-owned company’s select board committee.

The joint venture which led to the formation of Canadile Miners has since collapsed.

In his letter to President Mugabe recommending Core Mining, Mpofu signed off the letter describing himself as “your ever obedient son”.

According to documents in NewsDay’s possession, President Mugabe had a meeting with Kurotwi and Mpofu and in that meeting, Kurotwi told Mugabe, in Mpofu’s presence, that the minister had demanded bribes.

The disclosures are contained in a document prepared by the ZMDC detailing the shareholding structure and operations of Core Mining.

Revelations that Kurotwi accused Mpofu of soliciting bribes from him came to light during a meeting held between the minister and the ZMDC board at the Mines ministry boardroom on September 20.

In the meeting Mpofu accused Kurotwi of raising a number of allegations against him and the ZMDC board during their meeting with President Mugabe.

During the meeting, Mpofu complained that Kurotwi had told the President he had solicited for bribes.

Mpofu said Kurotwi also complained to the President that he (Mpofu) was a “stumbling block” in the construction of the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre.

Part of the minutes read: “The minister noted that in his meeting with His Excellency, Mr Kurotwi made a number of allegations against him and against the board members.

Mr Kurotwi alleged that the minister was being a stumbling block in the setting-up of the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre which he (Kurotwi) incorrectly alleges was part of the original joint venture agreement; that the board members of the Mining Development Corporation were working in cahoots with the minister against Canadile Miners; that the minister is directing the board to work against him; that there were attempts from the minister to solicit bribes from him and to divide Core Miners shareholders and turn them against Mr Kurotwi.”

The minutes indicate the minister complained there were “rumours, insinuations and allegations being levelled against him (Mpofu) and the board from quarters bent on dividing the board and tarnishing his image to give the impression that the minister and the board were both incompetent and corrupt.

“The minister reiterated that he has been demonised and falsely accused but was adamant that good shall prevail as it is normal . . . to have a lot of noise when people are working.

“However, he insisted that regardless of the accusations there was need to go deeper and not be afraid,” the minutes read.

In that meeting Mpofu said the President questioned Kurotwi on several issues including the shareholding structure of Core Mining, how he obtained the 46% shareholding, the incorporation of Core Mining and its association with Benny Stenmetz Group Resources (BSGR).

Core Mining were initially said to be a special purpose vehicle of BSGR, a diversified natural resources company, with offices in the Channel Islands, London and Johannesburg. Mpofu reportedly said the President questioned Kurotwi on his educational background and his experience in mining and how he expected the minister to to give the go-ahead for the construction of the diamond technology centre without the approval of the Office of the President.

President Mugabe questioned the ownership of the land on which the diamond centre was being built, the amount of investment Core Mining shareholders had brought and why it fell far short of the approved amount of $100 million.

The President is also said to have questioned why Core Mining borrowed money from local financial institutions to fund its operations when it was supposed to inject money as foreign investment.

He was referring to the $1, 5 million Core Mining got from AgriBank. In the minutes, Mpofu told the ZMDC board that Kurotwi failed to provide credible answers to the President prompting the 86-year old leader to call for an investigation into the structures of Core Mining and its operations.

It also emerged during the meeting that a team tasked to do due diligence on Core Mining had been made to falsely believe the company was part of BSGR.

The board members and Kurotwi have since been arrested and taken to court on charges of fraud and criminal abuse of office. They are out on bail.

Suspended ZMDC chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa was denied bail.

In the letter where minister Mpofu refers to himself as “Your ever obedient son”, Mpofu recommended a diamond company with offices in South Africa and London to be awarded concessions in Chiadzwa on the strength that it had spied on Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR).

Mpofu wanted Namakwa Diamonds to mine in Chiadzwa because it had the ability to “handle ACR outside Zimbabwe.

Namakwa has provided insight into ACR activities in frustrating investment in Marange and have expressed ability to handle ACR outside Zimbabwe”, Mpofu told the President.

President Mugabe’s government is at loggerheads with ACR, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, over the Chiadzwa diamond claims.

ACR’s claims were taken away under very acrimonious circumstances by the government.

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