HARARE – Zimbabwe’s High Court will tomorrow rule on an application seeking the indictment of Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu on contempt charges and forcing him to register a tribute agreement of a man claiming 50 percent ownership of a Shamva quarry.
Base Minerals and Chiroswa Minerals shareholder Peter Valentine has asked the High Court to charge Mpofu with contempt of court for failing to register his mining lease as instructed by High Court judge Bharat Patel in a 2011 ruling.
“The 1st respondent (Mpofu) shall be committed to prison for a period of 30 days,” says a draft order that Valentine is seeking from the High Court.
“The warrant of committal to prison shall be suspended on condition that the 1st respondent complies with the court order by referring the tribute agreement entered into by the applicants for approval and registration in accordance with part XVIII of the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05).”
Mpofu is cited as the first respondent while Attorney General Johannes Tomana is cited as the second respondent.
Patel’s ruling instructed the mining commissioner to register Valentine’s tribute agreement for the limestone mine within 10 days.
Since 2011, Valentine has been pushing Mpofu to register the tribute agreement, but he says in his court papers the minister has refused, employing a combination of delaying tactics and arguments that he cannot register the agreement because the grantor, one JRN Groves did not sign the papers.
Valentine insists that Groves, the previous owner of the mine, signed the tribute agreement giving him 50 percent shareholding.
If convicted, Mpofu faces a jail sentence of up to one month and possible disqualification from public office, which would in turn spur his resignation as minister.
Mpofu yesterday said he is yet to be served with summons over the matter.
“I never heard about that, I don’t know what this is all about,” he said. – Gift Phiri, Political Editor