By Daniel Chigundu
Parliament is set to appoint a Privileges Committee to investigate legislators Temba Mliswa (Norton), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North), Anele Ndebele (Magwegwe) and Leonard Chikomba (Gokwe-Kabuyuni) on $400 000 bribery allegation.
The four legislators who are all members of the Mines and Mining Development Committee are alleged to have demanded about $400 000 from James Rose Goddard as facilitation fee to secure a mining contract at Hwange Colliery.
However, this is not the first time that members of this committee including its chairperson Temba Mliswa have been accused of asking for bribes.
A few months ago Mliswa and other members of the committee including Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya were also accused of having asked for a bribe from Shepherd Tundiya so that he would not be brought before the committee.
Mliswa has however volunteered to temporarily step down as chairperson of the Mines and Mining Development Committee to pave way for investigations.
The Mines and Mining Development Committee chairmanship belongs to Zanu PF although the party seconded Mliswa to occupy it.
The Norton legislator is however on record saying that there are some Zanu PF legislators who are not happy with him occupying the seat and are working against him.
Below is the extract from the Parliamentary Hansard on what transpired in the in the National Assembly on the matter which emanated from a Motion raised by Makoni South legislator Shadreck Mataranyika.
HON. MATARANYIKA: Thank you, Mr Speaker Sir. I rise on a matter of privilege in terms of Standing Order Number 68 (d).
Mr Speaker Sir, on Monday the 4th of February, 2019, The Herald Newspaper carried a story under the headline ‘MPS Demand $400 000 Bribe’.
It is alleged that Hon. T. Mliswa, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development and three other members of the Portfolio Committee namely; Hon. L. Chikomba, Hon. A. Ndebele and Hon. P. D. Sibanda demanded $400 000 from a Mr James Rose Goddard as facilitation fee to secure a mining contract at Hwange Colliery.
In the period during which the four Members are alleged to have met Mr James R. Goddard, the Committee was conducting an enquiry into the operations of Hwange Colliery. Mr Speaker Sir, the allegations are very serious and injurious to the reputation of the Members, the Committee and indeed that of Parliament. In that regard, the allegations may, therefore, constitute a breach of privilege leading to contempt of Parliament. However, I need to stress this point, Hon. Speaker, I want to make it clear that in raising this matter I am not saying the Members are guilty of any offence, but simply to provide the Hon. Members an opportunity to clear their names and to protect the integrity of Parliament. I thank you.
HON. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members take your seats, please. My ruling – Section 194 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that “a high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained as one of the basic values and principles guiding public administration. To that extent, Parliament must be seen to be abiding by this provision among others. Having listened to the report by the Hon. Member, indeed the allegations are serious and have the potential to damage the integrity of Parliament, the Committees and the Members mentioned”. I, therefore, rule that the allegations should be investigated in order to clear and protect the image of Parliament, its Committees and Members.
HON. MATARANYIKA: Following your ruling, I, therefore, move that a Privileges Committee be set up to investigate the allegations of corruption raised against the Hon. Members.
Motion put and agreed to.
HON. SPEAKER: The matter will be referred to the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders to appoint a Privileges Committee.
HON. T. MLISWA: Mr Speaker Sir, I want to support your ruling. I am a person of integrity and honour and therefore I will temporarily step down as the Chairperson of the Committee on Mines and Minerals Development until the investigations are done. I think it is unfair of me to continue chairing when there is controversy surrounding this. I am innocent until proven guilty. I uphold this institution, I uphold my integrity and as such, I will step down as chairman until this issue is resolved.
HON. SPEAKER: I rule that in terms of procedural practice, what Hon. T. Mliswa has asked for is agreed to and he will remain out of the chairmanship of the Mines and Minerals Development Committee until such time that the investigations are concluded. The Committee in terms of our Standing Orders, at its next meeting, will, therefore, decide as to who should be the chairperson temporarily.