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MPs in Parly fistfight over Chivayo

By Moses Matenga/Harriet Chikandiwa

MPs from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday exchanged blows in Parliament over whether controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo must be summoned to testify on corruption allegations involving a US$183 million Gwanda Solar Project.

Mr Wicknell Chivhayo (left) and Intratek lawyer Mr Bruce Tokwe giving evidence to members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy yesterday. Picture by John Manzongo
Mr Wicknell Chivayo (left) and Intratek lawyer Mr Bruce Tokwe giving evidence to members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy. Picture by John Manzongo

The alleged scam was exposed in the 2019 Zesa Holdings forensic audit report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Following a heated debate, Norton MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) was allegedly punched in the face by opposition MDC Alliance proportional representation MP Memory Mbondiah, who accused him of undermining other MPs after he discouraged them from summoning Chivayo on the grounds that his case was still before the courts.

Mliswa claimed that in the ensuing melee, Mbondiah grabbed his bag which contained some money.

Chivayo was set to appear before the PAC which is now led by Gweru Urban MP Brian Dube (MDC-T) to explain how his company, Intratrek, won the US$183 million Gwanda Solar Project tender in 2013 ahead of China Jiangxi, which had come first during the adjudication process.

The Gwanda 100-megawatt solar project never took off even though more than US$5 million initial payment had been made to Chivayo.

As MPs deliberated on whether to call Chivayo to appear before the committee, there were heated exchanges.

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Mbondiah could be heard yelling at Mliswa, telling him that she was not his wife.

She then charged towards the Norton MP and punched him on the face, while other MPs and Parliament officials tried to restrain her.

Mliswa later told journalists that Mbondiah punched him on the face and also allegedly grabbed his bag.

“I never fight women,” Mliswa said. “That is what happened. She punched me and took my bag and I am still counting how much money was there. My point was that we cannot as Parliament to raise issues which are before the courts, and if we have problems, we then go to the Parliament legal counsel, which then tells us what to do.

“It is separation of powers, the three pillars of the State — and you witnessed it yourself but it is always women who complain that they are beaten, but today you saw me being beaten up and I don’t know what it says when it was mothers’ day yesterday.

“I did not retaliate but as you can see she punched me, she took my bag and I am yet to see if there is anything missing, my phone and all, but this is what you have seen of men being abused in this house by women. I don’t know what women’s’ organisations can say about that.”

He then accused the PAC of being compromised.

“I will not be part of a committee that is compromised. Ask him (Chivayo) whether he has a matter before the courts. This committee cannot be compromised. If there is any matter before the courts it is sub judice and you should ask him if this matter is before the courts. The issue of Intratrek has always been before the media and the courts. We cannot be a court of law,” Mliswa

But Dube retorted, saying he would not take orders from Mliswa.

“I am not going to ask him that question again and I am going to proceed with the manner that I have indicated. I am not going to be told by you what to ask him (Chivayo),” Dube charged.

In February 2019, when Mliswa was the chairperson of the Mines Portfolio Committee, which was investigating the missing US$15 billion diamond revenue, he was also involved in a fierce fight in Parliament with Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna.

Yesterday’s incident is not the first time that MPs have clashed while investigating corruption cases. News Day