SPORTS and Recreation Commission (SRC) chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa, who is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son in law, is facing contempt of parliament charges after he snubbed a hearing by Youth, Sports, Arts, and Recreation Parliamentary Portfolio Committee where he was supposed to field questions relating to the state of football in Zimbabwe.
He was issued with a 24-hour ultimatum to appear before the committee.
Mlotshwa failed to turn for the oral evidence hearing Tuesday, prompting committee members of the portfolio committee to resolve to charge him with contempt of parliament if he fails to avail himself Wednesday morning.
The ministry’s officials, who were headed by the permanent secretary Thokozile Chitepo, were excused after it became apparent that the issues at stake required Mlotshwa and his team to lead in giving the oral evidence.
The SRC last year suspended the ZIFA board led by Felton Kamambo for alleged incompetence, leading to FIFA threatening to ban Zimbabwe from participating in international football.
FIFA rules do not permit political interference in the sport.
The SRC is yet to provide evidence of incompetence to FIFA.
During deliberations to find a way forward, Chitepo was asked to briefly leave the House as committee members took turns to give their views on the SRC board’s absence.
Chitepo had indicated that the SRC board chair had travelled out of the country but later made a u-turn saying Mlotshwa was in Bulawayo. Also, it was reported that the senior staff of SRC had been summoned by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) for a meeting.
Committee member and MP Tatenda Mavetera said: “I do not think the SRC board is taking Parliament business seriously. This issue is very pertinent and has a lot of traction now in the media and the country at large. For them failing to send even one representative is annoying. Are they telling us that they are incapacitated to send one person to answer some of the questions here? This is not fair.”
“This issue was raised by his Excellency, President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Youth Day. If SRC had seen the TVs and newspapers, His Excellency is also worried about the state of sports in the country and we as a committee, requests SRC to come and they snub us. To me this is wrong. I do not think the OPC summoned the whole SRC board to the meeting.”
MDC Alliance MP Trevor Saruwaka said: “When Parliament summons anyone for a hearing, I think it is only the President who is allowed to give an excuse. They should have communicated in advance and made arrangements to defer the meeting. They must just turn up. The state of football and the impact of the decision taken by SRC is so devastating. They are not doing justice to the matters at hand.”
“I think we have had several challenges with the SRC. They do not respect Parliament. I do not know why? Every time it is something to do with football, they do not show up,” he added.
The committee’s chairperson Mathias Tongofa then ruled that Mlotshwa and crew would appear Wednesday before as raised by other members.