Mpofu to testify in Kurotwi trial

HARARE - Chris Mutangadura, the government’s chief law officer, is to summon former Mines minister Obert Mpofu to testify in the ongoing trial of Core Mining and Minerals (Private) Limited director Lovemore Kurotwi, accused of defrauding the government of $2 billion.

The trial was supposed to resume yesterday, but Mutangadura applied for a postponement to July 23 to allow for Mpofu’s court appearance. Mpofu is now the Transport minister.

Kurotwi was arrested together with Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)’s ex-boss Dominic Mubaiwa, who is represented by Lewis Uriri.

Kurotwi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa opposed the postponement, arguing that the delay was prejudicial to her client.

“For us this case has been going on for almost four years and we are told that there is a statement yet to come from the minister,” Mtetwa said. “The question is why it has taken so long to record a statement from the minister, particularly because we raised the issue of the minister testifying on the first day of trial.

“We asked who the misrepresentations were made to and were told to the minister and asked if the minister would come and testify and the State said he is not coming.”

However, High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu allowed the postponement, saying that it was in the best interests of justice and transparency to give the minister reasonable notice before he appears in court.

Charges against Kurotwi and Mubaiwa arose after a failed investment by South African diamond firm, Benn Steinmeitz Group Resources (BSGR) into diamond mining in the Marange fields.

Kurotwi is accused of misrepresenting 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 between the parties.

ZMDC, which owns Marange Resources and Kurotwi’s Core Mining, went into a joint venture to extract diamonds in Marange, forming the now defunct Canadile Miners.

The State alleges the parties later travelled to South Africa for a due diligence exercise, after which Mubaiwa prepared an unapproved and uncirculated Memorandum of Agreement between Marange Resources (Private) Limited, signed in July 2009, without Cabinet authority.

The case was back in court yesterday after it was postponed in May, following a trip to South Africa for an inspection-in-loco where mining operations were being conducted, during a due diligence exercise carried out five years ago.

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