Mbizo Member of Parliament Settlement Chikwinya insists that former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Godwills Masimirembwa who was named by President Robert Mugabe last year as having been involved in a US$6 million diamond scam involving a Ghanaian company still has a case to answer.
President Mugabe exonerated Masimirembwa in a television broadcast marking his 90th birthday saying that he had since learnt that Masimirembwa did not receive a bribe from the Ghanaian firm. Its executive had lied to the government.
“Twakatinyepera twuvakomana itwotwo. You see, liars. In the meantime they did not bring any money at all. Even iya yataiti yakatorwa naMasimirembwa. No! They had given the story kuti they had brought some money. Was it US$5 million or US$6 million, yakatorwa? They were busy here smuggling gold and selling it vachitova nearrangement neSouth African group and that is why one of the two was arrested,” Mugabe said.
Chikwinya said Masimirembwa had a case to answer because when he was accused by the president of pocketing US$6 million, Masimirembwa said: “I would tell His Excellency the real beneficiaries of the money in question.”
The Mbizo legislator said though Mugabe had exonerated Masimirembwa, he still had a case to answer because what Mugabe had simply said was that he had been told that someone had broken into a house but did not still the sugar but the sugar was missing.
“Mr. Masimirembwa must still be taken to task as to where did the $6 million go because we have a complainant and so far nothing has been done. These are some of the issues which begin to haunt us. …. His Excellency the President did his job, he made a complaint and therefore there must be a case,” he said.
MR. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. First of all, I would want to thank the mover of this amendment.-[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- The amended portion speaks exactly to what the original mover of the motion was calling for. The fact that after some debate, another Member of Parliament who was present during that debate in this case Hon. Zindi, but who was absent during the drafting of the original motion, saw it fit to also go and come up with this amendment which speaks exactly to what was being sort after by the original motion, speaks volumes of what we were crying for, that the original motion was watered down – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –
Mr. Speaker, I will just want to go in the chronological order of the prayer by Hon. Zindi. Hon. Zindi acknowledges the unequivocal stand that His Excellency, the President has taken against corruption as reflected in his Speech marking the official opening of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament, together with his Speech more recently of the 21st February Movement Commemorations of his 90th birthday.
I would want to relate specifically to the Speech made by His Excellency on the 17th September, 2013 and I will dwell specifically on the issue of one Mr. Masimirembwa. Mr. Speaker, without going into the details of what His Excellency said, I would only want to reiterate one thing that when the President of the nation speaks, he speaks with authority.
In this case, His Excellency took the position of being a complainant because of the high profile nature of the case beforehand, the issue of $6 million at stake. Therefore, the President became a complainant on behalf of the whole nation – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Once there is a case and where there is a complainant, I would expect the law enforcement agents to move in with due speed and due respect, especially the authority of the person and office which has spoken.
In his response Mr. Masimirembwa said and I want to refer, “I would tell His Excellency the real beneficiaries of the money in question.” So, he did not deny that he was within the auspices or the confines of the corrupt activities but he said I am only a breaker into this house. I broke into this house but I did not benefit from the proceeds of breaking into this house – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Therefore Mr. Speaker, what it means is that we still have a case. He may not have necessarily benefited from the proceeds of the house breaking but there is a case of corruption involving $6 million.
It then took His Excellency, the same complainant again to come back and say I have been told that the person who broke into this house did not steal the sugar but the sugar is missing. Therefore, I still take it as of today that we still have a case where His Excellency complained and that the law enforcement agents must act and act decisively. Mr. Masimirembwa must still be taken to task as to where did the $6 million go because we have a complainant and so far nothing has been done.
These are some of the issues which begin to haunt us. As we move within our political discourse, people begin to point fingers to say this office is not doing its job properly, yet we have other inhibiting factors which are actually doing their job. His Excellency the President did his job, he made a complaint and therefore there must be a case.
Mr. Speaker, the second point in the prayer by Hon. Zindi is that the Executive has taken steps to uproot corruption and this is seconded by the fact that the Minister of Finance came before this House to explain the steps being taken by the Executive to uproot corruption or to plug the holes which were permitting corruption to thrive within our society.
First of all, you would forgive me Mr. Speaker, I was not in the House on that day but I read the Hansard through the online edition. Let me set my record clear. I do not agree with the Executive taking this step which they have taken. The very same Executive which is setting out to go and catch the thief, are the very same people who are being accused, not only by the public but by Members of Parliament seated here – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – Members of Parliament seated here are saying where are the hon. ministers to come and speak to the issues which are being alleged under their ministries.
The hon. member who spoke before me, Hon. Mpofu of Silobela raised a very pertinent issue. Members are speaking about ZBC, ZESA, PSMAS and these institutions fall under particular parent ministries. The ministers become chief accounting officers of those ministries. I would expect, on a single day, that one minister comes at a time to give a Ministerial Statement to actually clear the public perception.
My argument remains the same; in the absence of speaking to facts and figures coming from an authoritative institution, we are continuously going to be filled with perception and you are going to forgive us. You are going to make rulings day in, day out because one of the principle of representing people is to hear. I consult my people in Mbizo because I need to hear and after I have heard, I need to make submissions to Parliament. Therefore, it is not correct that Members of Parliament must not deal with hearsay because it is the job of a parliamentarian to hear and then make submissions – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –
The language being used by Members of Parliament; they are not putting facts, they are asking questions in the absence of ministers. The Minister of Health, is it true that Cuthbert Dube is earning $230 000? It is now up to the Minister to come and say yes or no and not to say Member of Parliament, keep quiet because you must investigate first – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –
Mr. Speaker, therefore on the issue of the Executive setting out themselves when they are already holding …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Chikwinya. The Speaker made a ruling that we should not continue debating on those issues, I mean talking about unsubstantiated issues. So, may you withdraw what you have just said please?
MR. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The example I have used is substantiated and I stick by it. The example of Cuthbert Dube earning $230 000 is substantiated. I was very careful in my submission because it is substantiated.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: The hon. member is required to withdraw hearsay in Parliament. On the issue of Cuthbert Dube you may continue.
MR. CHIKWINYA: I am not very sure what hearsay I have said and you may actually guide me through Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You may continue.
MR. CHIKWINYA: Thank you very much. Mr. Speaker, I was about to sum up the issue that, I as a Member of Parliament, am not comfortable in having the Executive policing themselves and therefore we support the submissions by other Members of Parliament that an Independent Commission of Inquiry with the same precedents which you took during the Sandura Commission over the Willowgate scandal be put in place to investigate the ministers themselves and any other innuendos that are to do and matters thereto with regards to corruption.
Mr. Speaker, my third point is on corporate governance. I hear my colleagues who are trying to establish good corporate governance within our parastatals who in their minds actually know how an institution can be run. We have vast experiences here. It is clear and can be substantiated. If you look at private institutions and how they are able to maneuver; even under very harsh economic conditions, they can sail through compared to our own parastatals which are continuously making losses.
I would want to draw us back to this institution called Parliament. Mr. Speaker, this week, Members of Parliament who have been coming to Parliament are known, there is a register. I want to take for example that 200 members came for Parliament and therefore for this week, we are going to order coupons for 200 members. What then surprises me and which is against the principle of corporate governance supporting corruption is that in the event that Hon. Chikwinya goes back to the constituency today without collecting his coupons, but after having been registered that he was in Parliament this week and his coupons have been ordered; next week, I come here and my coupons are not there –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – where are they? This is simple accounting; you do not even need a director of accounts to be able to do this simple mathematics. You actually need a clerk to be able to do this.
Where are they? A Member of Parliament came; he was recorded to have come. He knows his distance, his fuel allocation and you ordered the coupons. Where are they? It simply means, either there are Members of Parliament who are getting above their normal fuel allocation or that the staff is taking the coupons and the question still remains, where are the coupons required to be given to the hon. members? So, this again goes against the principles of corporate governance.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order hon. member. If you have a complaint, I think there are proper channels you can use to complain about coupons and not in this Chamber – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear,hear]-
MR. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker I have ceased to complain about coupons. I am now used and I have devised mechanisms of how I represent my constituency and how I move from Mbizo to Harare and back to Mbizo. So, I am not complaining but just making an example of an institution which is actually a Government institution.
Mr. Speaker, within the auspices again of corporate governance is the issue that we made a request as Parliamentarians during our debate and this request is not borne out of no-precedence. There is a precedence which has been set by other Parliamentarians in our region and world over. In the Parliament of South Africa, when our Media Committee visited in 2011, we were fortunate to find out that there were vacancies in the board of South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). We were fortunate to find out that during our visit, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee responsible for Media was conducting interviews to fill in the vacancies for the respective board because SABC is a Government institution.
This is a precedence within our neighbours and this is exactly what we are calling for, which cements issues of corporate governance. Why I am placing this onus before Parliament is that we are public representatives. You might look down upon some of us and say what can he tell me, he is a Grade 2 drop out? What can he tell me, he is a Member of Parliament from Buhera? No, it is the powers of the institution. It is the powers of the institution which we are clamouring for because we have a legitimate expectation from the people. We have a legitimate expectation from the people and that is why the same people ask us: What are you doing about corruption because as they see us, they have a legitimate expectation of answers.
I have always said Mr. Speaker, in the absence of such systems, Parliament is continuously going to be weak and we are going to have men and women passing through this House, voted out simply not because they failed to deliver on their duties but the system did not allow them to answer the call as expected – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-
We need to strengthen our institution. We are an autonomous arm of the Government – [AN HON. MEMBER: The third leg] – it is actually upon us. You Mr. Speaker, heading us to strengthen this institution, not only because we need the power but you must also have the legacy of leading an institution that is powerful; equal to the Executive.
I was hurt. Mr. Speaker I was hurt. I listened to the ruling yesterday. I will not argue with the Speaker because I do not even have the mandate but I am sure I can speak to it that this ruling came from the Second Floor of this Parliament…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Oder hon. member. Order, the ruling was made by the Speaker. Therefore you cannot challenge the ruling. You may not talk on it. Thank you.
MR. CHIKWINYA: It is not being challenged …
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You may not debate on it.
MR. CHIKWINYA: I am actually…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You may not, hon. Member debate on that ruling – [HON. MEMBER: Ndizvozvo hazvitaurwe siyana nazvo]-
MR. CHIKWINYA: Okay, thank you Mr. Speaker. I become afraid. Mr. Speaker, when during the proceedings of our relationship: between the Chair and the Members, we create a ‘them’ and ‘us’ scenario. It is a very bad relationship which does not augur well for the co-operation and actually, the execution of the mandate of Parliament. I am not speaking about the ruling. I am only imploring that we need to create a good relationship borne out of respect for the Chair and the individual occupying the Chair and also the respect for the Members of Parliament so that people see Parliament in good light for the good governance of the land – [HON. MEMBERS: Here, here]-
Mr. Speaker, I therefore propose again that members of parastatals and State enterprises must go through a Parliamentary Committee. If it is seen that, may be back benchers are not well versed, let us then put the onus onto the Standing Rules and Orders Committee, as long as Parliament has a say in it.
Precedence was set during the Inclusive Government. Commissioners to Constitutional Commissions – Parliament had a say. I remember arguing strongly that the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe did not pass through Parliament and I was convinced with such but there was demonstration that, no, the Speaker of Parliament had actually signed and alluded to it and I was happy. Whether I was not in agreement with the individuals or not, that becomes a matter between myself and my proxy but as long as Parliament has been given the opportunity to make a say in appointments to these institutions; they belong to the State. They are parastatals and therefore, they belong to the public and we are the people chiefly accountable after five years to the public.
I must be able to stand in my constituency to say, yes we made a mistake, we appointed a Chief Executive – so and so and he did not perform as per our expectations and we have removed him or we have extended his contract. How do I say it now?
Mr. Speaker, I will not dwell much on the implementation of the 2012 Government of Zimbabwe Framework on Corporate Governance and Guidelines. I only implore that the responsible Minister must respect the debate which is currently going on here. For the first time, and I think the nation has captured this for the first time, Parliamentarians across the political divide have managed to agree on one single issue – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – one single issue which has united us is that, we do not want to witness and to be witnesses of the fall down of our own country – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-
We cannot have the legacy of going down in history books that we were witnesses to a process which led to the meltdown of our own country – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – We cannot reinvent the wheel. Basic principles of corporate governance are simply required here. There is too much bureaucracy in our parastatals – Director, Deputy Director, First Deputy Director, and Second Deputy Director.
We do not need all that. We do not need all that. We need to remove the red tape. We need a straight line reporting which is effective and efficient. One, it cuts cost on labour and two, it makes decisions goals come faster.
I will give you an example of NetOne versus Econet. NetOne being a parastatal, we invited them in the previous Parliament and asked them: Why are you in a loss making zone? They told us that, if you want to purchase equipment to upgrade the mobile system, we have to go through the State Procurement Board which sits on our papers for six months and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) must sign and then the Minister must then approve – six months. Technology moves on a daily basis and by the time they acquire that state of equipment, Econet, which makes one day decisions – [HON. MEMBERS: Yes] – Econet sits today in the morning, they have a proposal and by evening their Chief Executive Officer has signed.
So, they are already in front. Econet enjoyed the Eco-Cash platform way ahead of NetOne but this was technology available everywhere but they could not implement it. Then we want to come here again and say our parastatals are making a loss. Why? Because of bureaucratic systems which we have created and which prolong decisions when actually time is moving and the competition is actually catching up with them.
Mr. Speaker, the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Corruption dictates that a country that ratifies this Convention must have a Whistle Blower’s Act. We, as Zimbabwe ratified this Convention in 2007 but we do not have a Whistle Blower’s Act. That is the implementing organ; the implementing statute of the Convention. What it simply means now; because some of the people are genuine and they see corruption and want to make it known, they blow the whistle. What do we do now Mr. Speaker? We go and take away the air in the mouth of the whistle blower. The whistle is there, the mouth is there but you have taken the air – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – A statement made somewhere took away the air out of the mouth of people who are supposed to blow whistles. I will not say where it was made; I am sure I am protected to just say it was made.
Mr. Speaker, I will go to the ultimate prayer of Hon. Zindi that we need to appoint an ad hoc Committee of the House, to thoroughly investigate the alleged cases of corruption. I cannot agree with Hon. Zindi any further. What I now need to do is to suggest or propose an implementing mechanism of this prayer.
I propose Mr. Speaker, that after this debate has been done justice and when the mover of this motion believes that, yes, all the Members of Parliament have been given the opportunity to debate, that the mover of this motion together with Hon. Zindi because she is now part of the motion through this amendment, they write a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly requesting implementation of this prayer.
It is my proposal that they write a letter because it is within our jurisdiction; it is Parliament, we are Parliamentarians and the Chair included. We are discussing among ourselves. So, this is our own prayer to our own Chair and we believe that it is executable. I request that Hon. Madzimure writes a letter seconded by Hon. Zindi in terms of signatures co-signed, that we request that this ad hoc Committee be set up.
Our strength Mr. Speaker, is that the Standing Rules and Orders allows us to do that – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – So, not the Executive nor any worker within the administration of anywhere cannot say, it cannot happen. So, this is implementable. We only need to respect each other. I believe that there is mutual cooperation between us and the Chair. I believe that this report is not out of order and therefore, I put it before the House that when we are through with this debate, after this debate has been concluded – it is my sincere belief that once the motion has been adopted, that we need to now operationalise this prayer; that the ad hoc Committee be set. The recommendations as given by Hon. Zindi can be adopted by the Chair or rejected, no problem but as long as we have Members of Parliament in an ad hoc Committee with specific terms of references that address this prayer – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – and that address issues that have been raised by the various hon. members seated here and debating here.
Mr. Speaker, I want to wind up by thanking both Hon. Madzimure and Hon. Zindi in coming up with this now modified motion. In the same manner, I now feel sorry for my honourable colleagues. I was listening to Hon. Mashayamombe and in his debate, he knew what he was talking about but he was now saying and I want to quote, ‘Vana nhingi, mumwe director, so and so, mumwe officer”, you can feel that given the latitude to speak to the name of the person he can do it.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order, hon. member, you are left with five minutes.
MR. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Given his Parliamentary obligation to say out the names, he can say it but you can see the hon. member was struggling to say out what he has been sent by his constituents to go and say – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – So, we shall continue to grow in the dark like mushrooms but let me tell you, mushroom grows.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.