By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
14 March 2014
The ministry of Mines racked up more than $320,000 in travel and subsistence expenses in 2012. This was at a time when the former Finance Minister Tendai Biti was encouraging ministers and their officials to cut down on travel expenditure.
A recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General revealed that the ministry of mines under Obert Mpofu ‘illegally’ spent the huge amount of money borrowed from the Mining Development Fund (MDF).
Auditor General Mildred Chiri said the borrowings were unconstitutional and in breach of the Mines and Mining Development Fund constitution, whose core objective is to support and sustain the mining titles system.
‘However a total of $108,283 had been reimbursed to the Fund by the end of the year, leaving a balance of $210,711 which is still outstanding,’ she said.
The revelations will again taint the image of Mpofu, who was the former Mines minister during the inclusive government but now holds the Transport portfolio under the ruling ZANU PF government.
The wealthy Mpofu earlier this year had to dispel claims that he is a ‘thief’ who got rich through stealing and corruption. He is considered one of the richest people in the country and has in the past boasted he had never been poor.
Political analyst Bekithemba Mhlanga said while Mpofu is known to have had businesses from the early 1980’s, he will find it hard shrug off allegations of corruption because of the amount of wealth he accumulated during his tenure as mines minister.
‘It is undeniable that he made huge amounts as mines minister during which time there was plenty of activity at the alluvial diamond mines in Marange,’ Mhlanga added.
The burly Mpofu is well known for being Matabeleland’s richest man and owns virtually half of all commercial properties in Matabeland North. He is also the major shareholder of Allied Bank, formerly known as ZABG.
The Umguza MP said he started off as a paprika farmer and the project generated him a lot of foreign currency, which he used to buy a farm and cattle to feed for resale.
‘We started selling cattle and now I have many cattle. We sell 100 cattle per week. Go to the Cold Storage Company and you will see where we steal money. Let us compete with love and not jealousy,’ he said recently in an interview.