Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Justice Wadyajena, that he was hunting an elephant with a rekeni (catapult). The big animal was, therefore, likely to turn against him.
Wadyajena disclosed this in Parliament yesterday when he filed a report laying contempt of Parliament charges against Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere, a former Minister of Youth and Indigenisation, had been called before the committee to answer questions about the Marange Share Community Trust in which diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa had allegedly pledged $50 million to the trust and a function attended by President Robert Mugabe.
The Trust said it had not received any money.
When asked to give evidence, Kasukuwere accused Wadyajena of being on a witch hunt.
“I think this is a big witch hunt, a misplaced one. I do not think it is the committee but I must say it is yourself Mr. Chairman, Hon. Wadyajena at a personal level. Mr. Chairman, you have been very careless, I have recordings of your own discussions with Journalists,” Wadyajena quoted Kasukuwere as saying.
“This animal is too big for you to hunt; it might turn back and hunt you.”
In a related matter, the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, Lovemore Matuke brought contempt of Parliament charges against the chairman f the State Procurement Board Charles Kuwaza.
Matuke said Kuwaza had totally ignored the committee by refusing to bring documents that the committee had requested in connection with electricity sector projects on two occasions.
Matuke said Kuwaza’s arrogance had impaired the work of the committee in discharging its constitutional mandate.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said he would rule on the two motions in due course.
MATTER OF PRIVILEGE REPORT BY THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON MINES AND ENERGY ON THE CHARGES OF CONTEMPT OF PARLIAMENT BY MR. KUWAZA, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE PROCUREMENT BOARD.
MR. MATUKE: I want to seek your authority to present a report on the contempt of Parliament by Mr. Kuwaza, Executive Chairman of the State Procurement Board.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, can you please raise your voice.
MR. MATUKE: I rise to move that with your permission today, I move a motion on the contempt of Parliament by Mr. Kuwaza, Executive Chairman of the State Procurement Board.
MR. SPEAKER: Proceed.
MR. MATUKE: Thank you Mr. Speaker.
As part of its oversight function, the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy has been conducting an enquiry into the tendering system of electricity sector projects. In pursuance of this, the Committee invited the Executive Chairperson of the State Procurement Board (SPB), Mr. Charles Kuwaza to a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to gather pertinent facts on the operations of the SPB in respect of electricity sector projects. The invitation was extended on 9th June 2015. This was way more than the stipulated 14 days prior notice provided for in the procedures of Parliament.
The Executive Chairperson of the SPB duly appeared before the Committee on Monday, 30th June 2015. However, the meeting was aborted after the Committee observed that he was failing to provide answers to questions that had been asked in the invitation letter. In this aborted meeting, Mr. Kuwaza advanced neither written responses nor oral responses. He thus failed to articulate what he had been asked to explain. The Committee resolved to give him more time to adequately prepare and the meeting was adjourned to the Committee’s next sitting date.
On Monday, 6th July 2015, Mr. Kuwaza once again appeared before the Committee. The Committee had documented additional questions which Mr. Kuwaza had been given in the first aborted meeting. After the formalities of taking oath and introductions, members of the Committee led by the Committee Chairperson, asked if Mr. Kuwaza had brought written responses to the two sets of questions that had been brought to his attention. It became apparent that Mr. Kuwaza had not prepared a written response to the questions as directed by the Committee. When asked again to respond even orally to questions that were raised in the letter sent to him, Mr. Kuwaza indicated that he had sent an email to the Clerk of Parliament dealing with only one issue of the mandate of SPB. Mr. Kuwaza could not even provide proof of the e-mail. Members of the Committee took turns to impress upon Mr. Kuwaza that it was important for him to provide answers that had been lawfully posed. All efforts by members were in vain. Mr. Kuwaza became visibly abusive and at one point suggested that there was no order in the Committee.
The Effects of Mr. Kuwaza’s Conduct
The conduct by Mr. Kuwaza has the potential to impair and undermine the role and authority of Parliament in general and the work of the Committee in particular.
In this regard, the Committee is of the view that:-
i. The Executive Chairman of the SPB, Mr. Kuwaza, could have acted in contempt of Parliament by failing to answer lawful questions that were posed to him.
ii. The e-mail which he sent to the Administration of Parliament was a misrepresentation of facts.
iii. When the Committee Chair courteously ordered him to recuse himself from the meeting, Mr. Kuwaza shouted, ‘can we have order in this Committee,’ suggesting that the Committee was disorganised.
iv. Mr. Kuwaza’s arrogance, misrepresentation and refusal to respond directly impaired the work of the Committee in the discharge of its constitutional mandate.
In view of the foregoing, the Committee does hereby present this Report in terms of Select Committee Rule Number 11. It is the Committee’s view that the following provision of the Schedule (Section 21) of the Privileges and Immunities and Powers Act were violated by Mr. Kuwaza.
i. Refusing to be examined before or to answer any lawful and relevant questions put by Parliament or the Committee.
ii. Prevarication or other misconduct as a witness before Parliament or the Committee.
Accordingly, the Committee hereby reports the matter to the House and pray that a Privileges Committee be appointed to investigate the alleged breaches by Mr. Kuwaza. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will study the report and will rule on it in due course.
REPORT BY THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON YOUTH, INDIGENISATION AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT CHARGING HON. S. KASUKUWERE, AGAINST UTTERANCES MADE BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON THURSDAY, 9TH JULY, 2015
MR. WADYAJENA: As part of its oversight function, the Committee has been enquiring into the implementation of the Indigenisation Act by the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic empowerment. Among other issues, the Committee from last year sought progress on the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOTS), an instrument established by Government as a vehicle through which communities ought to benefit from the operations of qualifying business operations from their environs.
From the various submissions made by the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, the Committee found out that the Community Share Ownership Trusts were at different stages of their development. Of particular interest, was the Zimunya Marange Community Share Ownership Trust which was launched by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde. R. G.Mugabe, expected to kick start with the total of US$50 million said to have been pledged by the five diamond companies operating in Chiadzwa diamond fields. At the occasion, it was reported by the then Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment that the five diamond mining companies had each pledged US$10 million towards the trust.
Sometime last year, the Committee invited the board of the Zimunya Marange Community Share Ownership Trust to brief the Committee on progress made in the implementation of the community projects following the US$50 million pledge by the diamond mining companies operating from the area. The Committee was puzzled when the board indicated that they were yet to receive the alleged pledges.
The Committee further invited the representatives of the diamond mining companies who denied ever making such pledges to the Community Share Ownership Trust.
The Committee went on to invite the then Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Hon. Francis Nhema, the Permanent Secretary and officials from the Ministry, who indicated that the Ministry did not have any letter or correspondence testifying to the pledges. The Committee still made a follow up with the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. W. Chidhakwa, Permanent Secretary and officials who again indicated that they went about the pledges during the launch of the Zimunya Marange Community Share Ownership Trust which was broadcast on television and Hon. Kasukuwere who presided over the establishment of Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust to clarify matters to enable the Committee to make informed recommendations to Parliament on the Community Share Ownership Trust. It must be emphasized Mr. Speaker Sir, that the invitation of Ministers was informed by Section 107 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides that:- “Subject to this Constitution, every Vice President, Minister and Deputy Minister must attend Parliament and Parliamentary Committees in order to answer questions concerning matters for which he or she is collectively and individually responsible”. Mr. Speaker Sir, with your permission, may I just highlight these two words, collectively and individually responsible.
Following on the above observation, a letter was sent to Hon. S. Kasukuwere, now the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to appear before the Committee. On the 9th of July, 2015, he duly appeared before the Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment. Consistent with Committee procedures, the Minister was requested to take oath and he duly complied. As the Chairperson of the Committee, I highlighted the purpose of the meeting which was in the letter and spirit of the correspondence sent to the Hon. Minister Kasukuwere.
The alleged conduct by the Hon. Minister:- in response to Committee inquiries, Hon. Minister Kasukuwere informed the meeting that discussions relating to the pledges were done at a very high political level and since Government was a key player in these diamond companies, it is unconceivable for it to enter into an agreement with other shareholders in the diamond mining companies. The impression given was that it came as a directive from Government to these companies since Government was also key to a 50/50 stakeholder. As the oral evidence proceeded and members requesting further clarification on what the Minister presented in relation to evidence obtained before, the Minister became impatient and started making verbal attacks on the Chairperson of the Committee.
He said the Chairperson was abusing his position as the Chair to fight personal wars with him. The Minister alleged that “I think this is a big witch hunt, a misplaced one. I do not think it is the Committee but I must say it is yourself Mr. Chairman, Hon. Wadyajena at a personal level. Mr. Chairman, you have been very careless, I have recordings of your own discussions with Journalists”. He also alleged to be in position of video clips which testify to the allegations made. He went on to warn the Chair that “this animal is too big for you to hunt; it might turn back and hunt you. In a small way Mr. Chairman, you have been using rekeni” – adding that the Chairperson would lose the fight. The Chairperson ruled the hon. member out of order, indicating to him that his conduct was tantamount to intimidating the Committee in carrying out its Constitutional mandate.
The Chairperson requested the Hon. Minister to submit to Parliament Administration any evidence against the Chair for appropriate action to be taken but the Minister insisted that it was up to him to avail or not, such evidence. I told the Minister that I was not intimidated in anyway and I insisted the Minister to respond to issues raised by the Committee.
The effects of the Minister’s conduct: – the conduct of the Hon. Minister has the effect of intimidating the Committee and in particular the Chairperson by making inferences that the Chairperson was witch hunting the Minister using the Committee. This puts the work of the Committee into disrepute by also alleging that the Minister was an elephant being hunted by rekeni that the big animal will turn back and hunt the Chairperson who will ultimately lose the fight. It is submitted that the utterances have the effect of instilling fear into the Committee as well as demean the stature of the Committee and Parliament as a revered institution, one of the three arms of the State.
Hon. Minister Kasukuwere also claimed to have recordings of the Chairman’s conversations. It can only be assumed that the very conduct of recoding the Chairman’s private conversation is not only criminal and unlawful but it is also patently unconstitutional.
Possible contravention of the provisions of Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act [PIPPA] [Chapter 2:08]:- In view of the foregoing, the Committee does hereby present this Report in terms of select Committee Rule Number 11. It is the Committee’s view that the following sections of the Schedule to the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act were violated that is Schedule 4 – prevarication or other misconduct as a witness before Parliament or a Committee and Schedule 13 – making any oral or written threat to a member or challenging him to fight on account of his conduct in Parliament or a Committee.
Mr. Speaker Sir, accordingly, the committee hereby reports the matter to the House and prays that a Privileges Committee be appointed to investigate the alleged breaches by Hon. Kasukuwere. I thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will study the report and shall rule on it in due course. Thank you.