Zimbabwe’s Parliament is to set up a committee to investigate allegations of bribery against four members of the Mines and Mining Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee including its chairman Temba Mliswa who is an independent legislator.
This follows media reports that Mliswa and three members of the committee Leonard Chikomba, Anele Ndebele and Prince Dubeko Sibanda demanded a $400 000 bribe from James Rose Goddard for him to secure a mining contract at Hwange.
The issue was raised by Misheck Mataranyika who said the allegations must be investigated because they were very serious and injurious to the reputation of the committee and Parliament.
Speaker Jacob Mudenda agreed and said the Standing Rules and Orders Committee will set up a Privileges Committee to investigate the allegations.
Mliswa said he was temporarily stepping down as chairman of the committee pending the investigations.
“I want to support your ruling,” he said. “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. 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.
THE 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.
THE 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.
THE 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.