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Arda bosses face contempt of Parly

By Andrew Kunambura

Parliament is set to initiate proceedings to charge Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) bosses Basil Nyabadza, pictured, and Willard Mbona with contempt of Parliament for allegedly not taking the business of the Legislature seriously.

Then Vice President Mnangagwa tours ARDA Antelope in Maphisa accompanied by ARDA Board chairman Basil Nyabadza in Matabeleland South Province.(Picture Eliah Saushoma)
Then Vice President Mnangagwa tours ARDA Antelope in Maphisa accompanied by ARDA Board chairman Basil Nyabadza in Matabeleland South Province.(Picture Eliah Saushoma)

On two occasions last month, Nyabadza, who is the board chairperson of Arda, refused to comply with the committee’s directive to be furnished with documents of the parastatal’s strategic partners, arguing they were confidential.

Tempers flared between Parliament’s portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement chairperson Justice Mayor Wadyajena and Nyabadza as they accused each other of using bullying tactics to extract information.

Nyabadza has since submitted the requested documents to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda.

But the committee is still interested in charging Nyabadza with contempt and has notified Mudenda of its intention to charge Nyabadza and Arda chief executive officer Mbona.

“After the meeting, we advised him to study the powers of Parliament which we assume he did since he submitted the documents on the very day.

“He didn’t submit them to the committee but to the Speaker where he cited the confidential parts of the documents,” said Wadyajena, confirming the development on Saturday.

“But as the parliamentary committee, we have powers to study the documents related to government.

“His conduct was contemptuous, he threatened us hoping that we would be scared …and that we would not request for the documents.

“The documents were requested in January but he lied that they were requested in February.

“The committee will deliberate on his conduct and recommendations will be made to the House as he wanted to undermine the committee.

“If he had issues, there are various ways of raising his issues and how they would affect his work,” said Wadyajena.

Mbona also refused to furnish legislators with copies of agreements that Arda entered with its strategic partners, saying they could not provide “third parties” with the documents since the agreements had a confidentiality clause.

The committee is now questioning Mbona’s professional qualifications and has requested him to furnish the committee with copies of his academic and professional qualifications which he has failed to do.

“The committee feels his qualifications could be dubious,” said the firebrand Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator.

Nyabadza yesterday said he was yet to be informed of the committee’s intention to charge him.

“I have not been informed of such an intention yet, so I cannot comment on it,” he said.

If the committee finds Nyabadza and Mbona guilty, they would be made to pay fines specified in the law.

In the past, Parliament had powers to send anyone found guilty of contempt to jail.

That is what happened when the late former MDC legislator for Chimanimani, Roy Bennett assaulted the-then Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa during a debate on land reform in the National Assembly.

Parliament can no longer send offenders to jail as that is unlawful under Section 148 of the new Constitution that fundamentally reduced the powers of Parliament.DailyNews