TRANSPORT minister Obert Mpofu is embroiled in a wrangle involving a gold mine in Gwanda in Matabeleland South in which he is accused of reneging on an agreement to pay off an outstanding balance of over half a million dollars for the mine.
Mpofu reportedly entered into an agreement with Lungisani Ncube to buy Magwe 24 Gold Mine in Gwanda district in 2013 when he was Mines minister but according to sources he is now refusing to settle the outstanding balance.
Contacted for comment, Ncube told the Zimbabwe Independent that Mpofu was refusing to pay the balance because of a “misunderstanding where he claims that I reported him to the media over the outstanding amount.”
“He only paid me US$190 000 for the mine out of an agreed sum of US$700 000 but now he says he will not pay the balance,” said Ncube in a telephone interview on Tuesday morning.
“I have been trying to get legal assistance but right now the problem is that I have no money and I am not feeling well. When I get better I will be pursuing the case which is currently before the High Court.”
He said he still has all the relevant ownership documents, which he will only surrender to the minister upon payment of the full amount as per agreement.
Ncube, however, said the mine was closed late last year by officials from the Mines ministry on allegations that “it was not selling its gold to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)”.
This followed new measures announced by current Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa last November to curb side-marketing of the precious mineral thus depriving the fiscus of much needed revenue.
Among other things, Chidhakwa set up a Gold Compliance and Enforcement Co-ordination Unit (GCECU) and suspended operations by miners who fail to acquire new Artisanal Mining Permits (AMP).
Ncube would not say whether the mine has the AMP.
Ncube also expressed concern over the failure of lawyers (names supplied) in Bulawayo to effectively represent him so that he can get justice.
He said he has already been through three different law firms and has so far received no joy.
“I have already changed lawyers three times and all of them belong to prominent city law firms. I am considering looking for Harare lawyers to take over this case once I get back to full health,” said Ncube.
On Wednesday, Mpofu told this newspaper that “you are talking to the wrong person. Please talk to the right people” but could not say who these people were.