Zimbabwe legislators must display zero tolerance to corruption-Parliamentary Committee

  1. Part II: Basis of the Inquiry.

Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 68(d), Hon Mataranyika raised a motion on a “Notice of Privilege” to the National Assembly of Zimbabwe on 7 February 2019. The Notice detailed specific allegations of corruption against 4(four) Honourable Members of Parliament. The four members’ are;

2.1           Hon. T. Mliswa;

2.2           Hon. L. Chikomba;

2.3           Hon. A Ndebele; and

2.4           Hon. P. D. Sibanda.

The allegations emanated primarily from a report published by the Herald newspaper on 4 February 2019. In the report, it is alleged that the 4 (four) Honourable members of Parliament solicited for a bribe from Mr. James Ross Goddard (“Mr. Goddard”). The motion was debated by the Members of the National Assembly resulting in a ruling by the Speaker that a prima facie case had been established against the 4 (four) accused Honourable members. In accordance with the Standing Rules and Orders of the National Assembly, the matter was referred to the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders which subsequently established a Privileges Committee to conduct inquiries into the allegations.

The referral to the Privileges Committee recognizes that the allegations against the four Honourable members, if proven, were injurious to the good standing and reputation of Parliament. The inquiry is a sine qua non because Parliament is the constitutional watchdog over other branches of Government with respect to corruption and improper conduct.

The matter is indeed of profound public importance. It is indisputable that the inquiry into the alleged conduct of the four Honourable Members is in the public interest. The enquiry will also foster public confidence in the institution of Parliament and presents a unique opportunity to disabuse the mind of the public against the slightest perception of tolerance to corruption by Parliament.

This inquiry is consistent with prior Parliamentary resolutions where it resolved to be decisive in investigating allegations of corruption and to take stern action against its members whose conduct is found engendering improbity.

In the case of S v Ngara 1987 (1) ZLR 91 (S) @ 101A-C, Dumbutshena CJ remarked that: –

“Any form of corruption resorted to by public officials … whose duty it is to uphold the law and by their conduct set an example of impeccable honesty and integrity, is rightly viewed with abhorrence. It is a dangerous and insidious evil in any community and in particular requires to be guarded against in a developing country”.

This inquiry will reaffirm the commitment of Parliament to the elimination of corruption which as noted in the “Global Corruption Barometer Africa 2019 report” has been on the rise. The need for decisive action cannot therefore be overstated in boosting public confidence in Parliament’s oversight role.

  1. Part III: Proceedings of the Committee: Rules of Procedure and Evidence

The Committee proceedings were governed by the rules of procedure as contained in the Standing Rules and Orders. Although the Committee was not bound by the formal rules of evidence, the Committee was cognizant of the need to uphold the right of the four Hon members of Parliament to make representations through their legal counsel and to cross examine witnesses in accordance with the principles of natural justice and  section 68 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

At its inaugural meeting, the Committee set its modus operandi and agreed on the procedure to be followed during the inquiry. The Committee held a total of sixteen (16) meetings, thirteen (13) of which were deliberative while three (3) were for gathering oral evidence.

The Committee commenced the inquiry by requesting a statement from Mr. Goddard in the form of an affidavit. In response, Mr. Goddard submitted an affidavit deposed to in December 2018. The Committee observed that the affidavit presented by Mr. Goddard was the same as the one he had deposed to when he first made a complaint against the four (4) accused Honourable Members to the police.

In view of the fact that the Committee had not yet been appointed in December 2018, the Committee requested Mr. Goddard to submit a fresh affidavit specifically responding to the request by the Committee. Upon reviewing Mr. Goddard’s affidavit, it became apparent to the Committee of the need to request for written submissions from:-

3.1           Mr. D Steyn (Mr. Steyn) the Mining Director at JR Goddard Contracting;

3.2           Mr Tundiya, the facilitator of the meeting between the four accused Honourable members of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development and Mr. Goddard; and

3.3           Hon Mliswa, Hon Chikomba, Hon Ndebele and Hon Sibanda.

The above-listed individuals were mentioned in Mr. Goddard’s affidavit. After considering the sworn submissions, the Committee sought clarification of the issues and requested corroboration of information received through viva voce evidence. The oral hearings were held from 8 to 10 April 2019. The Committee also resolved to obtain: –

3.4           A report from the police to whom Mr. Goddard had first reported the matter;

3.5           An affidavit from Ms. Muswe, the former Acting Board Chairperson of  Hwange Colliery in view of the fact that her name was extensively referred to in Mr. Sibanda’s affidavit and during oral submissions.

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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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