via ‘Mpofu lied to Mugabe’ – DailyNews Live 31 July 2014 by Tendai Kamhungira
HARARE – Lovemore Kurotwi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa yesterday accused Transport minister Obert Mpofu of misrepresenting facts to President Robert Mugabe about a joint venture diamond mining deal that led to the arrest of her client.
Kurotwi, who is Core Mining and Minerals (Private) Limited director, is accused of causing a potential $2 billion prejudice to the government.
He is jointly charged with former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) boss Dominic Mubaiwa.
Mpofu is testifying in the case as the last State witness. He has been subjected to a thorough cross examination by the top Harare lawyer.
Mtetwa grilled the minister, showering him with questions that he claimed were irrelevant.
Mtetwa hit back saying it was up to the courts to decide on the relevance of her questions, not him.
She said as a doctorate holder, Mpofu was supposed to comprehend the proceedings.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa were arrested after a botched investment by a South African diamond firm, Benn Steinmeitz Group Resources (BSGR), into a diamond mining project in Marange diamond fields.
The State claims Kurotwi misrepresented to the ministry of Mines and ZMDC that Core Mining was a special purpose vehicle of BSGR, which was supposed to be the guarantor in a joint venture agreement between the parties.
But Mtetwa said the minister is the one who had misrepresented facts to Mugabe about the deal, considering that BSGR had set out conditions that had to be fulfilled before coming on board.
Mtetwa said Mpofu knew about the conditions, a month before writing a letter to Mugabe.
“You therefore accept that you are the one who made misrepresentations to his Excellency?” Mtetwa asked, claiming it was the reason Mpofu did not copy to ZMDC the letter that he wrote to Mugabe.
Mpofu said the question was unreasonable, describing as fake, the agreement that was signed by the government and Core Mining.
“It was signed after a month you had pretended to the President that BSGR was on board,” Mtetwa said.
According to a letter dated May 5, 2009, written by BSGR director Marc Struik to the ZMDC’s chief executive officer, there were certain conditions that needed to be met before his company came on board.
“Subject to the provisions…, BSGR intends to fully support Core in all aspects of its obligations in the Marange diamond project (operation, management, financing, processing) once final binding agreements have been concluded,” reads part of the letter.
Mtetwa said BSGR could not have been mistaken as a joint venture partner because its conditions were not met.
Mpofu was also asked if he had kept minutes of meetings that he had with Kurotwi, to which he said he did not, since some of the visits he got from potential investors were “courtesy calls”.
He was further questioned on whether he followed the ZMDC guidelines, when he dealt with investors, but said that as a minister he was not guided by the ZMDC guidelines.
Mpofu seemed to be having a problem with Mtetwa’s line of questioning, claiming he did not want to be subjected to “unreasonable and childish” questions. He claimed he did not want to be reduced into a “cheap commentator”.
Asked to comment on the lifespan of the project, Mpofu said he did not know.
“I am not a geologist. I wouldn’t know,” Mpofu said.
Mtetwa said according to documentation, Canadile Miners was given 1 050 hectares of land and asked to invest $2 billion.
She said if this was to be put into perspective, it meant Anjin Investments (Private) Limited, which is currently mining in the Marange diamonds and given 3 731 hectares of land, was supposed to bring in over $6 billion in investment money.
The matter was deferred to next Monday, when Mtetwa continues with the cross-examination.
Mpofu is still to be cross-examined by Mubaiwa’s lawyer Lewis Uriri.
Chris Mutangadura, the chief law officer, is prosecuting, while High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu is presiding over the matter.