By Fungi Kwaramba
Parliament’s Finance and Economic Development portfolio committee chairperson David Chapfika has blasted his counterpart, Justice Mayor Wadyajena — who chairs the Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlements committee — arguing he has no mandate to probe issues that fall under his purview.
Wadyajena had summoned fuel company Sakunda Holdings (Sakunda) to appear before his committee to explain its involvement in the financing of the Command Agriculture programme.
That did not go down well with Chapfika, who told the Daily News yesterday that anything do with financing of government programmes falls under his committee.
“The financial transaction was between Sakunda and the Finance ministry,” he fumed.
“It is the Finance ministry that contracted Sakunda to finance Command Agriculture, obviously any financial challenges that would arise out of that would fall under my committee,” he argued.
“I read in the paper that…Wadyajena was pursuing that issue. I am not privileged as to what exactly he is pursuing but would like to believe it is about the land issue or productivity because those are the areas that would concern his committee…any issues to do with finance or any other financial obligations would obviously fall under the Finance committee because the financial parties include the Reserve Bank and Finance ministry,” Chapfika said.
“…obviously my committee would deal with that issue. I was actually going to table the issue so that we look into the challenges,” he said.
Efforts to get Wadyajena’s comment were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was not available yesterday.
Although Sakunda previously attempted to block the Land and Agriculture committee from investigating Command Agriculture, citing conflict of interest on Wadyajena’s part, Parliament insisted it had a case to answer.
Clerk of Parliament Misheck Chokuda insisted the inquiry would go on despite a parallel inquiry being conducted by the Finance ministry, reminding Sakunda to respect the doctrine of separation of powers as expounded in the Constitution.
“Firstly, it is our considered view that there is no legal basis for requesting the recusal of Wadyajena from presiding over the inquiry by the committee.
“In the first instance, the allegation that Wadyajena is conflicted on the basis of the High Court cases you cited does not appear to hold water in the absence of any information that evidently demonstrates that the cited cases are related in any form or manner to the Command Agriculture Scheme.
“Unless, of course, you can prove otherwise, this remains mere conjecture.
“Additionally, I must bring it to your attention that the decision to conduct an enquiry into the financing of the Command Agriculture Scheme is as a result of a resolution of the entire committee and not Wadyajena alone.
“In fact, Wadyajena was appointed as chairperson of the committee on December 20, 2017, by which time the committee’s work plan had already been adopted under a different chairperson and the enquiry in question had already commenced.
“This was after Sakunda had written a letter to Parliament calling for the recusal of Wadyajena alleging he was unable to fairly adjudicate over the matter as he was conflicted and was “using his position to fight personal wars.” Daily News