Ex-Mines and Mining Development Minister, Obert Mpofu, has denied claims in a Zimbabwe court that he demanded a $10 million bribe to let a diamond mining deal to go ahead.
He denied the claims made by his accusers, Core Mining director Lovemore Kurotwi and former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation CEO Dominic Mubaiwa, that the minister demanded a bribe from them.
He would not have demanded such an amount for the deal to go through, he said, according to media reports from the country. Mpofu is now Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa are jointly charged with defrauding the government of $2 billion. They made the allegation, claiming the prosecution against them was because they refused to pay Mpofu the bribe.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa are charged with misrepresenting to the government that Core Mining was a special purpose investment vehicle of mining giant, BSGR. It later turned out that BSGR had nothing to do with Core Mining and that the firm had no capacity to bankroll the project as promised. Consequently, the government claims, it lost $2 billion.
Kurotwi told the court that he had revealed the bribe request to President Robert Mugabe, and this had resulted in Mpofu brining about his arrest and prosecution.
Mpofu told the court: "I know Kurotwi, and considering my status, I would not even ask for a bottle of water from him let alone the $10 million."
He added that the case "was just some drama meant for the consumption of the media and the whole thing is nonsensical".
Mpofu said he believed that the company they were dealing with was BSGR only to discover that ZMDC had drafted a second agreement with the name Core Mining. He blamed Mubaiwa for failing to update him on the changes to the agreement and that the second agreement was never forwarded to the ministry as required.