The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and AmaBhungane reported this week how Moti Group executives enticed a Chinese partner to invest with them while privately discussing how the lithium project would collapse.
Lithium is used to make the batteries powering electric cars and has in recent years rapidly become a sought-after commodity, with mining companies scouring the earth for major deposits.
In a statement, Moti said the Chinese company they were in partnership with had brought its own lawyers and geologists to the site in Mashonaland East province in Zimbabwe to conduct their own assessments.
Dissatisfied with AmaBhungane’s investigation, Moti described it as “not only factually incorrect but almost laughably biased and discriminatory.”
“Contrary to amaBhungane’s deliberately negative framing of pieces of unverified and stolen documents and discussions, the Moti Group’s lithium project has received extremely promising valuations as evidence of its excellent long-term prospects, and exploration will be proceeding,” Moti said.
Moti also claimed amaBhungane’s journalists portrayed him “as a dupe” and the Moti Group “as thieves,” while intimating that the Chinese company is “stupid, careless, or naïve.”
Moti said the Chinese company’s leader, Pei Zhenhua, is one of China’s richest and most successful entrepreneurs, while the Moti Group is one of South Africa’s most successful black-owned firms.
“And it is indisputable that Zimbabwe is a country with massive mineral resources. In fact, the aforementioned Chinese company had brought its own lawyers and geologists in person to the site in the Mashonaland East province, where they spent extensive time conducting their own due diligence on just a minute portion of the reserve,” the businessman said.
“And in reality, the Good Days reserve mentioned by amaBhungane is worth millions of dollars alone. And so, while the terms of the company’s partnership with the Moti Group have changed, it has chosen to remain a minority shareholder.”
Moti accused amaBhungane of refusing to name their sources of information, outing them as Clinton van Niekerk and Frikkie Lutzkie, a former business partner with whom he said the Moti Group remains in litigation.
“In fact, the timing of this article is highly suspicious, given that it was published one day after another hearing in the matter between the Moti Group and Frikkie Lutzkie in the Pretoria High Court,” Moti said.
“Ultimately, this article is a clear example of media character assassination, obviously intended to further amaBhungane and Sam Sole’s personal vendetta. And it is outrageous that like so many black-owned businesses before, the Moti Group remains a priority amaBhungane target despite its inability to prove either myself or the Group guilty of any wrongdoing.”