Judge cautions Minister Mpofu •refuses to answer questions •Take proceedings seriously: Judge

Obert-Mpofu21Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter—
Former Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu authorised payment of US$600 000 as legal fees to a Harare law firm for work done for the ministry without satisfying himself that the work had actually been done, the High Court heard yesterday. The revelations were made during the fraud trial of Core Mining director Lovemore Kurotwi and former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa in which Minister Mpofu is a State witness.

During the trial, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu warned Minister Mpofu against being sarcastic in answering questions, urging him to take the proceedings seriously.

The minister allegedly instructed ZMDC and two other firms to pay the funds through a letter copied to chairpersons of the companies.
Half of the payment came from Canadile Miners under protest as the firm argued that not much work had been done for it.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa are being accused of defrauding the Government of Zimbabwe of US$2 billion through misrepresentation.

Minister Mpofu, a State witness, was under cross-examination by defence lawyer Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa when questions surrounding the payment of the US$600 000 were put to him.

Mrs Mtetwa wanted the minister to explain why he instructed the firms to pay the money without delay when he was not sure of the actual work done by the lawyers.

Minister Mpofu said the lawyers had been contracted by the Attorney-General’s Office to do the ministry’s work and he was simply acting on a bill brought before him.

Chief law officer Mr Chris Mutangadura objected to the defence’s line of questioning, saying the questions were unfair as they were tantamount to invading the lawyer/client confidentiality between Government and its lawyers.

He said the document was privileged and the minister should not be asked to comment on it.
Mr Mutangadura said the issue was not relevant to the trial and that the questioning was spiteful and malicious and smeared the name of the minister.

He said it was as good as asking Kurotwi how much he paid Mrs Mtetwa for the legal work done so far.
Mrs Mtetwa said the issue was relevant and that the minister should explain the circumstances under which payment was authorised for the benefit of the nation.

She submitted that Minister Mpofu had opened the legal shield that protected him from being questioned on matters concerning his character because he had already labelled Kurotwi and Mubaiwa “fraudsters”, “tricksters” and “organised gangsters” in the same trial.

Justice Bhunu reserved judgment on whether or not Mrs Mtetwa should be allowed to ask questions on the relationship between Minister Mpofu and his lawyers.

He said he needed more time to consider the submissions and case laws cited by both parties on the issue.
The parties were advised to file their written submissions on the issue ahead of a ruling by Justice Bhunu on August 27.

Mrs Mtetwa complained about Minister Mpofu’s sarcasm and refusal to answer certain questions put to him, prompting Justice Bhunu to reprimand him.

“Minister, I would like to direct you that these proceedings are serious and there is no need for you to be sarcastic,” he said.
“Just answer her questions. She is simply doing her job.”

This came after Minister Mpofu at one point refused to answer a question put to him saying: “I do not want to answer it”.
Minister Mpofu at times would smile when questions were put to him before responding with another question to the lawyer.

Kurotwi and Mubaiwa allegedly misrepresented to the Government that Core Mining was a special purpose vehicle for an internationally recognised mining giant BSGR Group and that it had the capacity to inject US$2 billion into the diamond mining project in Chiadzwa.

Government then partnered Core Mining and formed a joint venture company called Canadile Miners before it became clear that the company had no relations with BSGR.

Minister Mpofu is accused by Kurotwi of having demanded a US$10 million bribe for the deal to pass.

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  • Hezvoko

    Minister is a suspect and cannot be trusted


    Its very clear that this Minister thinks he is above the law & untouchable!

  • Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof)

    One gets the impression that some rich people tend to be arrogant thinking they can use money to defy the law ! Zimbabwe is espouses the rule of law and everyone should be subjected to the law and get a fair trial regardless of whether one is the proverbial Biblical Lazarus or stinking rich man!

  • imi pakaoma

    Thje nation waits with abated breath as the proceedings unfold,ummmm pakaipa pakaipa man.Thanks Herald for keeping us up to date with this case,minister vanenge vane katurike kuvhunduka chati kwatara kkkkkkkkk

    • Jongwe

      Yaa say it agin pakaoma imi! Pane kakaturikwa apa. Ko kuzoda kudherera dare, remember you are like any other citizen, and there is absolutely nothing special about you even if you own whatever! Ndimika maiti hamuna kunzwisisa language, ko apa ke?

  • Elton Mwinga

    Zvino kana munhu aripamberi pedare huru renyika oseka nekuramba kupindura mibvunzo, kunyangwe gweta rake risina kupokana nemubvunzo, toti kudini nedare racho? Munhu hangadaro asina nyaya! Pane nyaya apa

  • Cinna The Poet

    A Cabinet Minister accuses subordinates of some criminal offence and then refuses to answer questions relating to the issue in the highest court in the land, and even mocks the defence team by asking instead of answering questions. He fails to appreciate the essence of taking accused persons to court and thinks as a minister, by just saying kurotwi and mubaiwa defrauded the government, that will stick and judgement against these people will be obtained. How then do courts assess the authenticity of the case? And yet the honourable minister recently acquired a doctorate. Surely friends and relatives, particularly wife and children would have advised the minister to comply with court etiquette. Or is it that owing to the looming congress they want to give the honourable minister the “long rope “? This honourable minister must be causing his anointer to cabinet some sleepless moments.

  • johnso wekuMbare

    Its amazing that the minister is been allowed to be so contemptuous of the court.He thinks he is the law himself.The funds he is being called to account for are public funds of which he must openly answer questions been put through to him.Him being sarcastic the judge has to deal with him because this is the court of law and no one should be allowed to get away with this type of behavior let alone a senior government official.I feel this minister has a lot of skeletons in his cupboard and if he doesn’t have anything to hide why all the sarcasm ?I believe he is one candidate who should be investigated on how he amassed so much wealth for himself rather than starting with small fish trying to make ends meet.Everyday I wonder how this Zimasset thing is going to work when we have this caliber of leaders.Leaders who are devoid of any respect for their motherland and its people.Corruption continues unabated without any signs of serious commitment from the powers that be.GOD HAVE MERCY ON ZIMBABWE.

  • Historian

    History is about to repeat itself. Remember Dzingai Mutumbuka and Enos Nkala in the Willogate Scandal

  • anon

    The arrogance of power.

  • KennyKonscious

    Minister Mpofu cautioned by Judge-This is good for the government image which had been perceived by all and sundry that it condones crime especially at higher levels. This should ring alarm bells to many in high offices who might have believed that they are sacred cows. Therefore let the lawyers perform their job

  • Tobaiwa

    Very good point. In most progressive countries he would have been given the boot on the basis of what we have heard so far. Look at how China dealt with Bo Xilai- the govt did not waste time with this kind of circus. What we have seen so far clearly shows it is Mpofu who should be in the dock on charges of fraud and corruption and not the two fall guys.
    The funny thing is, he claims to be a competent business person but still wants to be a govt minister- why? ZIMRA should look closely at his claim that he is a wealthy person and check how much tax he has paid from his earnings.

  • Stanford

    Minister, what minister is the anim*l?