By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
09 July 2014
Transport minister Obert Mpofu is expected to testify in a case in which two senior managers, who face allegations of defrauding government of $2 billion in a diamond deal, are accusing him of soliciting a bribe during the time he was in charge of the mines portfolio.
When the case opened two years ago both Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi and former Mining Development Corporation chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa told the court that their woes started after they failed to pay the $10 million that Mpofu was demanding.
At the time Justice Chinembiri Bhunu said the allegations against Mpofu were ‘serious’ and on Monday he postponed the trial to July 23rd to allow the state to subpoena the minister.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa are accused of causing the government to partner an international mining company with no capacity to mine diamonds in Chiazdwa, resulting in government being prejudiced to the tune of $2 billion. But the court heard that the deal was known as the ‘minister’s project’ and Mpofu pressurized Mubaiwa to sign the agreement after which he asked for money from Kurotwi.
Kurotwi said Mpofu asked for what he called ‘my money’ on two occasions, including in South Africa where they met, while Mubaiwa said the minister used threats to force him to sign the agreement.
Meanwhile Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, who is Mpofu’s friend from boyhood, has blocked MPs from probing cabinet ministers for corruption, arguing the move was illegal.
Legislators sought to probe both the executives who were exposed of looting public institutions and the ministers under whose portfolios the parastatals fell. But the Speaker, for whose election Mpofu shed tears of joy last year, argued that only the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission had the mandate to do so.