HARARE – Parliament on Monday opened an investigation into claims that four MPs demanded a $400,000 bribe to facilitate coal mining deal for businessman, James Ross Goddard.
Chief Fortune Charumbira is chairing the Parliamentary Privileges Committee probing Temba Mliswa (Norton), Anele Ndebele (Magwegwe), Prince Sibanda (Binga North) and Leonard Chikomba (Gokwe Kabuyuni) who are all former members of the now disbanded portfolio committee on Mines and Energy.
The first day of the hearings got bogged down in legal arguments after Job Sikhala, the lawyer for Sibanda and Ndebele, was ruled by Charumbira’s committee to be conflicted because he is a Member of Parliament. The committee maintained that Sikhala will take part in a subsequent debate in Parliament on the probe’s findings, placing him in conflict.
Sikhala said he would appeal to the High Court, insisting the two MPs are entitled to a legal representative of their choice.
The probe adjourned to Tuesday after Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara for Mliswa and Simon Musapatika representing Chikomba asked to be furnished with some of the witness affidavits.
Zhuwarara warned before the hearings started that Parliament was “a serious august house and anyone caught to be perjuring themselves, we shall be laying criminal charges against them in the courts.”
The investigation was opened after Goddard wrote to the Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga and Vice President Kembo Mohadi, claiming the four MPs met him and put forward a proposal to facilitate a coal mining deal at Hwange, in exchange for a $400,000 bribe.
The MPs deny wrong-doing. Parliament will be hearing from all those involved.