Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter—
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu yesterday left the High Court without giving evidence in the US$2 billion fraud case after the judge told the prosecution to first put its house in order. Minister Mpofu had been subpoenaed to court as a State witness in the case in which Core Mining director Lovemore Kurotwi and former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa are accused of defrauding the Government.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa are facing allegations of misrepresenting to the Government that Core Mining was a special purpose vehicle of an internationally recognised mining giant, BSGR, before duping the Government into entering a joint-venture diamond mining agreement.
A joint venture company, Canadile Miners, was formed to extract diamonds in Marange.
The State contends that investigations later revealed that Core Mining had nothing to do with BSGR and that the company had no capacity to fund the mining operations.
To that end, the State claims it was prejudiced of US$2 billion.
In their defence, the two denied making any misrepresentations, indicating that Minister Mpofu was aware of the status of the company.
Kurotwi alleged that Minister Mpofu wanted a kick-back from him and that his prosecution was punishment for his refusal to pay him a bribe.
To bolster the State’s case, Chief Law Officer, Mr Chris Mutangadura, summoned Minister Mpofu to give evidence.
Minister Mpofu came to court yesterday, but defence lawyer, Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, submitted that the State had adopted the wrong procedure by calling the minister to testify when it had not formally placed before the court observations made in an inspection-in-loco conducted in South Africa two months ago.
Ms Mtetwa argued that before the State’s last witness was called, the prosecution should have wound up the inspection-in-loco process.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu agreed with the defence and ordered the prosecution to follow the correct procedure before leading evidence from Minister Mpofu.
The matter was deferred to Monday to allow the State to subpoena witnesses who attended the inspection-in-loco to come and confirm the observations before they are formally attached to the court record.