Mphoko spills beans on murky $6 billion deal

Former vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko has revealed how the military seized Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum reserves, saying he was threatened with dismissal by unnamed generals for questioning the deal as he was still the country’s ambassador to Russia.

Mphoko was in Moscow in 2005 when businessman Elexander Chepic visited him and expressed interest in a joint deal with Zimbabwe’s defense ministry to mine platinum at Darwendale.

In a statement released by CITE, an online content producer, the former vice president who was stripped of his post as an officer following the military coup against the late Robert Mugabe in 2017, gave insight how some of the government’s so-called mega-deals are being put together.

According to Mphoko, Chepic was referred to him by retired Colonel Tshinga Dube.

Mphoko said he raised a red flag after discovering the deal was murky, with ‘investors’ allegedly using the mine for speculative purposes amid indications there was no capital for the mine. project.

Army generals wanted him fired, only to be rescued by Mugabe until he was posted to South Africa in 2010, Mphoko said.

To date, the US$6 billion platinum mining project has failed to take off and the Russian “investor” recently pulled out of the deal.

“They (the Russians) requested that instead of section 43, section 40 which was in Darwendale where the platinum reserves were found on the surface and were worth over US$6 billion, be allocated to them” , said Mphoko. the case in his statement.

“He (Chepic) pointed out that if Article 40 was awarded to them, by September 2006 the company would be operational.

“The president (Mugabe) gave specific instructions that whoever was there should be fired and Section 40 given to the Russian joint venture.

“This is how the Darwendale Platinum mine ended up being awarded to the Russian company.”

The problems started when Mphoko approached the Russian Federation’s foreign ministry to improve relations, the former vice president said.

“In the meantime, some top Russian mining executives inquired with the embassy because a Russian company was selling shares in Zimbabwe, to raise capital for the project,” Mphoko wrote.

He added: “The Ambassador decided to invite Mr Chepic to a meeting for an explanation following revelations that they were now using the concession for speculative purposes by selling shares to raise capital to invest in Zimbabwe.

“Mr. Chepic arrogantly refused to meet the Ambassador and informed him that he was dealing directly with their partners in Harare, the Minister of Defense and the Army.”

At the time, Mphoko said he had gathered information that there was pressure to remove him from the foreign service.

“When Ambassador Mphoko insisted on meeting Chepic, there was pressure from Harare to withdraw him from Moscow.

“Vice President Joseph Msika (late) has been drafted into the campaign and tasked with convincing President Mugabe to replace Ambassador Mphoko.

“Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi was pressuring Foreign Minister Mumbengegwi, and the generals were also pressuring Joey Bimha, the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Office, for Mphoko’s withdrawal from the Russian Federation. Russia.

“Ambassador Mphoko was then summoned to Harare as the pressure had reached an alarming level.

“President Mugabe has been very clear as to why such calls for Ambassador Mphoko’s withdrawal came specifically from the Ministry of Defence.

“The President had received certain facts about the said Russian company directly from the office of the Russian Prime Minister, who was then under Vladimir Putin.

“President Mugabe confronted Vice-President Msika with these facts and rejected calls for Mphoko’s recall.”

According to a report by the Center for Natural Resource Governance, Russia’s Machitskiy’s Vi Holding, which has a 50% stake, is reluctant to continue investing after years of delays.

Darwendale, if built, could potentially produce 860,000 ounces of platinum group metals per year and the deposit could be mined for four decades, Great Dyke said.

Production was originally slated to start in 2021, but Russian ties and a lack of capital aren’t the only factors that have delayed the project.

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