Mines and Mining Development Minister, Obert Mpofu approved the joint venture between Marange Resources and Core Mining and Mineral Resources to form Canadile Miners without the knowledge of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Cooperation (ZMDC), the High Court heard yesterday.
This was said by former ZMDC legal advisor, Tichaona John Muhonde who was testifying in the trial of director of Core Mining, Lovemore Kurotwi and former ZMDC chairperson, Dominic Mubaiwa accused of giving government false information on the joint venture leading to the State suffering a potential prejudice of $2 billion.
The court also heard Mpofu appointed the Marange Resources board while Canadile Miners had a board with nominees from Core Mining and Marange also appointed by the Minister.
Muhonde told Justice Chinembiri Bhunu that the $2 billion referred to by Mpofu (as potential prejudice) was meant to be realised within the lifespan of Canadile Miners operations contrary to the State’s assertion that Core Mining promised to inject the said amount into the joint venture.
“No company had been asked to bring an investment upfront which was subject of the life of the mine,” Muhonde said after Kurotwi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa asked him to comment on the State’s claim of $2 billion potential prejudice.
Muhonde said in July 2009, Mpofu advised ZMDC’s newly appointed board headed by Goodwills Masimirembwa that government had already approved three diamond investors.
“When the board came into office it was told there were already approved investors,” Muhonde said.
“We were under pressure to conclude the joint venture agreements. I had to work for 24 hours a day and at all material times we were told there were already government approved investors.”
Asked by justice Bhunu if he knew why Kurotwi and Mubaiwa were arrested, Muhonde said: “Honestly I do not know why they are here.”
He was further asked if he knew anything about the alleged fraud and he said: “No I am actually surprised.”
Muhonde, a lawyer by profession, told the court that contrary to reports that he had been paid to be a State witness, he actually declined to testify after it had been set as a precondition to his package.
“I was told to sign a second termination agreement if I wanted to get paid my package. But I told them that the amount to be paid to me represented my entitlement and had nothing to do with this prosecution,” said Muhonde.
Advocate Lewis Uriri represented Mubaiwa while Chief law officer, Chris Mutangadura represented the State.