Parliament to ask Mliswa to defend his statement that Rautenbach bribed MPs


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The Member of Parliament for Gokwe Nembudziya Justice Wadyajena today asked that the legislator for Hurungwe West Temba Mliswa should be asked to defend his statement in The Herald of 3 April 2014 that businessman Billy Rautenbach bribed members of the Indigenisation Committee to enable him to bypass indigenisation laws to get a majority stake in the ethanol project at Chisumbanje.

Mliswa was quoted as saying: “Billy (Rautenbach) has also got into Parliament and already has corrupted some Members of Parliament. You were there when that whole Committee was held of indigenisation, there were Members of Parliament who were paid to heckle the Chairman, even asked the Chairman to stand up, and can’t you see that? But some of us are not moved by that. There were no noises because Members of Parliament had been paid to say what they needed to say. There are Members of Parliament who are in Billy’s constituency who had approached me that can we mediate between me and Billy and I said no.”

 Wadyajena said Mliswa had not retracted that statement in The Herald and should therefore be asked to defend it because it had the potential of undermining the integrity of the committee and Parliament itself.

He said if Mliswa was not able to substantiate his statement, this would be a breach of privilege. Wadyajena said the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act Chapter 2:08 stated, among others, the following in the Schedule of Offences:

  1. Offering to or accepting by a member or officer of Parliament of a bribe to influence him or her in his or her conduct as a member or officer.
  2. Offering to a member a fee, compensation, gift or reward for or in respect of promotion of or opposition to any Bill, petition, resolution, motion or other matter or thing submitted for the consideration of Parliament or a Committee.
  3. Publishing a defamatory statement reflecting on the proceedings or character of Parliament or Committee.

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda asked for time to look into the issue after which he would make a ruling.

 

Full statement:

 

MATTER OF BREACH OF PRIVILEGE: HON. THEMBA MLISWA

MR. WADYAJENA: The Report of the Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment is concerned with the statements allegedly made by Hon. Themba Mliswa to the Herald on the 3rd of April, 2014. Noting that Hon. Mliswa has not rebutted – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

MR. SPEAKER: Order. There is only one Chair to direct the affairs of this House. So, can you kindly allow the Chair to perform his duty? Hon. Wadyajena, take the podium. I recognise Hon. Wadyajena to present his Committee Report in terms of Standing Order, Number 38 (d), which states that every motion requires notice except motions relating to a question of order or a matter of privilege which in the opinion of the Speaker, constitutes a prima facie, case of contempt of breach of privilege. May I then call upon Hon. Wadyajena to make his statement.

MR. WADYAJENA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment is concerned with the statements allegedly made by Hon. Themba Mliswa to the Herald on the 3rd of April 2014. Noting that Hon. Mliswa has not rebutted or challenged the authenticity of the statement, the Committee therefore concludes that the press report accurately captured what is attributed to him. The alleged statements are as follows:-

“Billy (Rautenbach) has also got into Parliament and already has corrupted some Members of Parliament. You were there when that whole Committee was held of indigenisation, there were Members of Parliament who were paid to heckle the Chairman, even asked the Chairman to stand up, and can’t you see that? But some of us are not moved by that. There were no noises because Members of Parliament had been paid to say what they needed to say. There are Members of Parliament who are in Billy’s constituency who had approached me that can we mediate between me and Billy and I said no”

Effects of the alleged statements

Members of the Committee take exception to the allegations as they feel they have the potential to create deep suspicion amongst the members thus dividing the Committee. This has the potential to undermine the integrity and image of the Committee and Parliament itself. This may also compromise the ability of the Committee to execute its mandate and functions. Therefore, it is necessary for Hon. Mliswa to substantiate his allegations by way of furnishing Parliament with evidence which informed his alleged statements to the Press.

It is the contention of the Committee that if Hon. Mliswa is able to substantiate his allegations, this will point to a possible breach of privilege by some members of the Committee. However, if Hon. Mliswa is unable to substantiate his allegations, there could be a prima facie breach of privilege on his part.

The Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act Chapter 2:08 create among others, the following offences in the Schedule of Offences;

1. Offering to or accepting by a member or officer of Parliament of a bribe to influence him or her in his or her conduct as a member or officer.

2. Offering to a member a fee, compensation, gift or reward for or in respect of promotion of or opposition to any Bill, petition, resolution, motion or other matter or thing submitted for the consideration of Parliament or a Committee.

3. Publishing a defamatory statement reflecting on the proceedings or character of Parliament or Committee.

The Committee therefore, prays for the Hon. Speaker to make a ruling on the matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will consider the issue raised by the Committee in question and will make a ruling in due course.

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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