By Tendai Kamhungira
The National Patriotic Front (NPF) has accused the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy of abusing former president Robert Mugabe by persistently summoning him to give oral evidence on the missing $15 billion reportedly stolen from Marange diamonds.
NPF national spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire accused Temba Mliswa, who heads the portfolio committee, of flouting Parliament procedures.
“… Mliswa has been abusing his position as chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee to harass … Mugabe through a fake process aimed at obfuscating debate around the abuse of diamonds and diamond revenue through illegal mining activities by Zimbabwe’s security ministries, namely Home Affairs, Defence and State Security,” Mawarire said.
But Mliswa yesterday dismissed the claims, saying the ongoing parliamentary processes were legal.
“First of all, I cannot respond to people who are themselves abusing Mugabe by pulling him back into politics when he has retired. The process is nothing personal,” Mliswa said.
Parliament has given Mugabe, 94, a final ultimatum after, he, twice, failed to appear before the Mliswa-led committee and in both instances, he has not given reasons for his no shows.
The deposed former guerilla leader faces punishment according to the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act that empowers committees of Parliament to summon any person to appear before them and produce any documents required.
The Act also lists offences such as prevarication during questioning, presenting false information, tampering with, threatening or unduly influencing any person with regards to the evidence, and publishing defamatory statements about a member as offences.
If Mugabe does not appear again, then he would be in contempt of Parliament.
Mawarire said it was cynical to ask Mugabe to appear before Parliament, which participated in his removal from office in November last year.
“The activities of the parliamentary portfolio committee and … Mliswa are clearly contrived and meant to exonerate President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga from allegations of looting diamonds by creating a sideshow involving the former president,” he said.
However, Mliswa said the process had nothing to do with Mnangagwa.
“Mugabe was the chief executive officer of the country and he is the one, who told us that $15 billion had been lost and these are the things that he should come to explain to us.
“If he says, Mnangagwa was responsible for supervising ministers and if we feel that he has anything to explain then we can call him,” he said, adding that the process was not political but purely legal. Daily News