Former Mines minister Obert Mpofu was yesterday accused of single-handedly running the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) for four months after dissolving its board of directors soon after his appointment.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
The remarks were made by Core Mining and Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, while cross-examining the minister, asking him to explain the reason why he dissolved the ZMDC board and why the parastatal had no board between February and June 2009.
In response, Mpofu said he was not at liberty to disclose his ministerial reasons, but maintained he had an obligation to act in the manner he did since he had the powers to do so as the parent minister.
Mpofu is testifying in the $2 billion potential fraud matter in which Kurotwi is jointly charged with former ZMDC chief executive officer Dominic Mubaiwa for allegedly misrepresenting facts that led to the formation of a joint venture between Marange Resources and Core Mining that formed the now-defunct Canadile Miners.
Mtetwa further asked Mpofu to explain to High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu as to who was then behind the running of ZMDC in the absence of the dissolved board and he said: “It was the ministry through the management of ZMDC.”
Asked to explain in terms of what law he was running ZMDC, Mpofu said: “It’s not fair for a lawyer to ask a layman such kind of a question. We ran ZMDC within the laws of the country through the management of ZMDC.”
As the cross-examination continued, Mtetwa said Mpofu side-lined his former permanent secretary Thankful Musukutwa and did not invite him to attend meetings with potential diamond mining investors, in contravention of the laws governing the operations of the parastatal.
But Mpofu dismissed the claims arguing if Musukutwa was not involved, it was his [Musukutwa’s] fault since he was the parastatal’s chief executive officer who had a mandate to know everything happening under his ministry.
Mtetwa then indicated to Mpofu that in terms of the ZMDC Act, it was the board that advises the minister and not vice-versa, to which Mpofu said: “If there is no board, the minister runs the affair.”
The cross-examination took another turn as Mpofu was asked to explain whether he kept the minutes of all the meetings he held with the potential diamond mining investors from February to June 2009.
Mpofu said he never kept minutes of the meetings held during that period, but only took notes.
Turning to the issue of whether he knew Kurotwi, Mpofu said he remembered meeting him on four occasions, once in Bulawayo and thrice at his ministerial offices in Harare.
During the said meetings, Mpofu said, no minutes were taken except notes that were recorded. Mubaiwa is represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri and the trial continues today.