Zimbabwe's Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu, has been accused of soliciting bribes from Canadile Miners Deputy Chairman Lovemore Kurotwi to facilitate operations of the diamond mining company. Kurotwi was one of six mining officials recently arrested for misrepresenting to the government that his South African-based mining firm, Core Mining and Minerals, had the capacity to fund its joint venture with the parastatal Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) in Chiadzwa.
Court documents for the cases against Kurotwi and the five ZMDC officials who were also arrested show that Mpofu was the one to recommended to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe that Core Mining and Minerals, of which Kurotwi is a shareholder, enter into a partnership with the ZMDC to create Canadile Miners and get the mining rights to explore Chiadzwa, reports NewsDay. Furthermore, Kurotwi's allegations that Mpofu had demanded bribes from him took place in the presence of the president, according to the news report.
Minutes from a September 20 meeting between the mines minister and the ZMDC board members at the ministry's board room show that the Mpofu confirmed that Kurotwi had personally accused him of soliciting bribes in front of President Mugabe. The minutes say that instead of confronting Mpofu over Kurotwi's allegations, however, Mugabe questioned Kurotwi over Core Mining and Minerals' shareholders and how he had obtained his 46% share in the company, reports the Zimbabwe Independent.
Mugabe reportedly continued to question Kurotwi about his educational background and mining experience, about the money that Core Mining and Minerals had so far invested in the Canadile joint venture and why it was unable to bring the rest it had promised; Core Mining and Minerals had originally promised that some $2 billion of investments would be forthcoming. After Kurotwi was unable to give credible answers, Mugabe reportedly ordered an internal ZMDC investigation which led to the arrest of Kurotwi and the five ZMDC officials, reports Zimbabwe Independent.
Five of the six arrested officials have since been released on bail. The group, including ZMDC chief executive and general manager Dominic Mubaiwa, who still remains in jail, former board chairperson Gloria Mawarire, chairman of the finance and investment committee Ashton Ndlovu, board member Mark Tsomondo, and suspended company secretary Tichaona Muhonde, denies charges that it acted in common purpose to connive to defraud the ZMDC and therefore the government. Canadile has since been barred from the Marange area, and ZMDC is now running its operations on its own.
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