President Robert Mugabe was reportedly informed Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu allegedly demanded a $10 million kickback from Core Mining and Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi, the High Court heard yesterday.
Kurotwi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa asked Zimbabwe Mining Development (ZMDC) chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa if he was aware Kurotwi was being prosecuted because he reported Mpofu to the President.
Kurotwi alleged he directly reported to President Mugabe that Mpofu had persistently demanded the bribe from him.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu heard that when Kurotwi introduced wealthy Israeli diamond firm, Beny Steinmetz Resources (BSGR) to Mpofu, the idea was for BSGR to finance the joint venture between Marange Resources and Core Mining as a special purpose vehicle.
Mtetwa said BSGR later pulled out of the agreement after the government failed to meet the company’s conditions such as rule of law, Kimberely Process requirements and respect of human rights.
It also emerged Mpofu held meetings with Kurotwi in Bulawayo, but no minutes were recorded save for correspondences between the two.
Under cross examination by Mtetwa,Masimirembwa said it was not always necessary for the minister to record minutes since he referred all investors to ZMDC.
Masimirembwa almost lost his temper after a barrage of questions by Mtetwa about Mpofu’s conduct.
“I put it to you when BSGR pulled out of the agreement, Mpofu allegedly substituted it with Core Mining which was later given the green light to form a joint venture with Marange while anticipating to be paid by Kurotwi?” questioned Mtetwa. It was a question the ZMDC boss did not take lightly.
“That’s a fairy tale, you are desperate to involve the minister, he would be angry to be falsely accused by a director of a company that had no money and capacity to do the job,” Masimirembwa said.
Mtetwa told the court when ZMDC board members went to South Africa to carry out due diligence on Core Mining they knew BSGR had pulled out and another Israeli national had come on board as Core Mining financier.
She further said Mpofu was privy to the development, but went ahead and signed an agreement with Core Mining whose director, Kurotwi was now being accused of misrepresenting to the government.
“There is everything wrong with the agreement in that the funder approved by the government, BSGR is not there.
By replacing the funder with Core Mining, they knew the proposed investment of $2 billion would not come to Zimbabwe,” said Masimirembwa.
However, Mtetwa argued Mpofu took advantage that at the time of the signing of the agreements there was no ZMDC board and pushed for agreements to sail through in anticipation of payment by Kurotwi.
After Mtetwa completed cross-examining Masimirembwa, advocate Lewis Uriri, representing former ZMDC chief executive officer Dominic Mubaiwa took over.
Uriri produced correspondences between Kurotwi and Mpofu which had not been produced as part of evidence for the State contrary to his assertion Mpofu never communicated business with individuals. Masimirembwa denied any knowledge of the said correspondences saying ZMDC was an institution of records and thus would only comment on documents from his office.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa are accused of misrepresenting to the government that by forming a joint venture between Marange and Core Mining an investment of $2 billion would be realised.
The State is represented by deputy director of Public Prosecutions Chris Mutangadura and assisted by senior law officer Public Mpofu.
The matter continues next week on Friday.
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