Lawyer grills Minister Mpofu

HARARE - Top Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa yesterday roasted former Mines minister Obert Mpofu and accused him of breaching the law by dissolving the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and illegally running the parastatal.

Mtetwa said this while cross examining Mpofu, who is now the Transport minister, in the on-going trial of Core Mining and Minerals (Private) Limited director Lovemore Kurotwi.

Kurotwi is jointly charged with ZMDC’s ex-boss Dominic Mubaiwa. The two are accused of misrepresenting facts to government and prejudicing it of $2 billion. 

The pair was 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.

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

Mtetwa, who is representing Kurotwi, told the court yesterday that Mpofu dissolved the ZMDC board between February and June 2009, soon after being appointed Mines minister.

Mpofu retorted that it was within his powers to dissolve the ZMDC board. He confirmed that for four months, the ministry was running the affairs of ZMDC.

However, Mtetwa said this was against the law. She said the then Mines permanent secretary Thankful Musukutwa claimed in court that Mpofu sidelined him in some of the meetings that he had with potential investors.

Asked if he was aware that according to the ZMDC Act, it was the corporation, through the board, that was tasked with the administration of the mining sector, Mpofu said in the absence of the board, it was the ministry that was tasked with the operations.

“If there is no board, the ministry runs the affairs,” Mpofu said, a factor to which Mtetwa said was the reason why he had to tell the court why he dissolved the statutory board.

“You were in breach of the law during the four-month period. In terms of which law were you running the affairs of ZMDC?” Mtetwa asked Mpofu.

She said Mpofu continued to breach the law by directing the board to bring investment to him instead of the other way round.

Mpofu said the ministry was acting within the confines of the law and had the authority to run the corporation through the ZMDC management.

Asked to confirm if he kept minutes of meetings he had with potential investors, Mpofu told the court that there were no minutes but said he had notes. He did admit that, though, that minutes were a statutory requirement.

“Did you keep minutes of all the meetings you had with potential investors when there was no board?” asked Mtetwa.

He said he had no obligation to produce the notes, adding that senior management from ZMDC would occasionally attend some of the meetings he had with the investors; during the time the board was not in place.

He said he had four meetings with Kurotwi, one in Bulawayo and the other three in Harare.

Mpofu is the last State witness in a case that has been rumbling on for years.

He has been accused of demanding a $10 million bribe from Kurotwi, allegations he has strenuously denied.

Kurotwi claims that the fraud charges he is facing came about when he told President Robert Mugabe that Mpofu had demanded the money as a “thank you” for facilitating a joint venture agreement between government and his company.

The case continues today, when Mtetwa will continue cross-examining Mpofu.

Comments (16)

One would have to be a complete numbskull to be surprised by these stunning revelations. And believe you me, no appropriate action will be taken by the Commander-in-Thief! After all, this is the ever obedient favourite son involved.

Dumbuguru - 30 July 2014

"I do not lie, I am a Minister" I cannot trace anything from court proceedings that prompted this response from honourable Minister. If workers' committees, who operate outside company activities keep minutes of meeting proceedings, it is extremely inconceivable that a whole Ministry of Mines whose Minister has a doctorate and chaired meetings for a quarter of a year, did not minute such proceedings but scribbled notes on pieces of paper. Accountability would require that someone above the Minister should review the Minister's work. Would the president accept pieces of paper coming from honourable Minister's pockets as evidence of good conduct of Government business? This alone says a lot about the Doctor's conduct of government business and warrants a thorough forensic investigation.

cina the poet - 30 July 2014

Mtewa is far from a top lawyer, if shev were she would understand the need to maintain legal standards by keeping issues in court and not using the media as a court. She should be expelled from the law society and deported back to whence she came where she couldn't make it as a lawyer.

John - 30 July 2014

His Excellency, Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President R.G. Mugabe, haana dhiri uyu.

badroad - 30 July 2014

cima the poet, What are you hinting at? Who sent you? Who are you trying to protect?

John o - 30 July 2014

Keep it up Mtetwa God Likes people like you

OM - 30 July 2014

@Cinna the poet: "These ones, then, will be assassinated. Their names are marked.".... As for me: "So I lose none, in seeking to augment it, but do keep My bosom franchised and allegiance clear, I shall be counselled. ".... Mpofu is as thievery as they come.

Cinna the Conspirator - 30 July 2014

Mtetwa you are a star. Why should a minister fail to appoint a board for 4 months?. Ndidzo mviro mviro dzechitsotsi. How could Mpofu hold meetings alone with investors? No minutes of meetings involving the natural resources of the country worth billions of $$$$$

Jefta ndongwe - 30 July 2014

mtetwa chikoti, keep it up ma sista, vana john matumwa na obert ka??????????

nikuv - 30 July 2014

@john, if i understood your sentiments on Mtetwa, i think you stand to be corrected ! Ko hauzivi here kuti media yava ne access yema court proceedings here ? Mtetwa does not have to go and report anything , to them, vanenge varimo vachi tora ma notes ! Am just saying john !

TT - 31 July 2014

In countries were the rule of law is the norm iyi mbavha posturing as a Gov. minister should have been locked up for proper and thorough investigations

Mukanya - 31 July 2014

@IT I don't stand to be corrected as someone noted I translated the legal practitioners act correctly. Read it and see! it is the duty of every member to, promote the law - if you have a problem you go to court - you don't demonstrate as she has done you use your expertise as a lawyer - in her case she doesn't have any and uses dim journalists to make her point. It doesn't say you only promote laws that you understand, not to promote the law and rely on journalists lack of expertise should render expulsion from the law society in any society. As a matter of fact, the only matter of human rights and serious problems before the ICC at the Hague concerns the law society and crime /cover-ups of which she is a part. Because she is not very bright or a good lawyer she doesn't understand that when you break laws and sail close to the wind you stay away from piublicity because it ends up with the human rights courts including the EUHRC as well. So your brilliant human rights lawyer is currently under investigation by the top human rights courts in the world. I repeat rather than waste public funds on her locally as in contravening the legal practitioners act, she committed a criminal offence, she also has contravebned the conditions of her work permit - so deport her!

john - 31 July 2014

Beatirce Mtetwa is a great lawyer. It's just that there is no respect for law in Zimbabwe.There are no property rights,little wonder why farm invasions&counter farm invasions continue to be an ongoing exercise.

vagoni vebasa - 31 July 2014

No mercy. Mpofu is selfish fat-cat who has been surviving on Mugabe's desire to achieve tribal equilibrium. He quickly realised that Ndebele-leadership would be "handled with care" after the unity accord and decided to take full advantage of the situation. This man should be nailed.

selele - 31 July 2014

I see some truth in Ms. Mtetwa - I don't see the same in the Minister of Mines. I also see the truth in Sunday Mail Editor - I don't see any truth in the Ministerssss. - Uprightness means doing the right thing when no one is watching.

pty x - 31 July 2014

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