Parliament’s Committee of Standing Rules and Orders yesterday dissolved the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development and is set to unveil a Privileges Committee to investigate allegations that Norton legislator Mr Temba Mliswa and three others demanded a $400 000 bribe from a local businessman intending to mine in Hwange.
The committee, chaired by Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda, met yesterday and resolved to reconstitute the portfolio committee after it felt that the relationship among members was so bad that they could not conduct meaningful business.
It also noted that members of the Mliswa led committee were likely to trade accusations that would lead to acrimonious exchanges each time they met. It also resolved to set up a Privileges Committee whose membership would reflect the political composition of Parliament.
The composition of the Privileges Committee is still being worked on and the committee is expected to meet again soon to approve the list.
The setting up of a Privileges Committee followed a motion moved by Makoni South lawmaker Misheck Mataranyika (Zanu-PF), who submitted that allegations against Mr Mliswa were of a serious nature requiring investigations by Parliament in order to safeguard the integrity of the august House.
Adv Mudenda confirmed that Parliament was constituting a Privileges Committee but declined to give names for those who will constitute it.
“We are setting up a Privileges Committee. I think it is premature for us to make public members who constitute it. We need to inform them first, what if they turn down the appointment. It is a procedural requirement,” said Adv Mudenda
Sources in the committee said a sub-committee had been set up to identify the legislators to form part of the Privileges Committee.
“They will look at the political, gender composition of our Parliament. After that the SROC might have to meet again to adopt the names. But in the meantime the Mines portfolio committee has been dissolved. It has to be reconstituted but those fingered like Mr Mliswa should not constitute it,” said a source.
“The SROC felt that it had to put its foot down. The bickering among members put the integrity of Parliament into disrepute.”
Mr Mliswa, who chaired Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, was implicated with three other members — Leonard Chikomba (Gokwe Kabuyuni, Zanu-PF), Mr Anele Ndebele (Magwegwe, MDC-Alliance) and Mr Prince Sibanda (Binga North, MDC-Alliance).
In his ruling to a motion by Mataranyika a fortnight ago, Adv Mudenda said Section 194 (1) (a) of the Constitution required that Members of Parliament demonstrate high standards of professional ethics.
It read as follows: “Public administration in all tiers of Government including institutions and agencies of the State and Government-controlled entities and other public enterprises must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including the following principles, (a) a high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained”.
Adv Mudenda said Parliament had to act. Mataranyika’s motion followed allegations by local businessman, Mr James Ross Goddard of JRG Contracting (Pvt) Ltd, that Mr Mliswa and his colleagues demanded $400 000 as “facilitation fee” to enable the latter’s company secure a mining contract at Hwange.