via Zimra boss tackles MDC MP – DailyNews Live 5 MARCH 2014
Gershem Pasi, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general, has petitioned Parliament to charge Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya — under its standing orders — for alleging he was earning $310 000 a month.
The development also comes as the tax agency and its boss have petitioned at least three local papers to stop repeating the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member of parliament (MP)’s recent remarks or motion about his alleged sky-high pay.
“The integrity of Zimra and the fiscus at large has been compromised… by the false statement… attributed to Honourable Chikwinya… to the extent that this can have grievous consequences to the economy of Zimbabwe if nothing is done immediately to repair the damage,” Pasi’s lawyers Kantor & Immerman said in a letter to parliamentary speaker Jacob Mudenda yesterday.
“Already… Zimra staff(ers) are agitated and tax payers may stop paying taxes at a time when the country needs the money more than ever before. We also believe that the statement may have been made with the desire to cow and weaken our clients from exercising their statutory mandates,” they said.
While it was unfortunate that Chikwinya’s statements had come barely a month after Zimra had conducted a workshop for legislators — attended by the likes of Jessie Majome and Zanu PF’s Dexter Nduna, and where the issue of salaries was addressed — the MDC lawmaker’s information was wholly untrue and false.
In that regard, Pasi and company did not regard parliamentary privilege as a concept, which extended “to the making of reckless statements and in the hope that such declarations could be covered by those benefits”.
“We are instructed to write to you and make a formal complaint against Mr Chikwinya, MP, for peddling falsehoods,” KI said, adding they were also seeking audience with the former lawyer and advocate.
“Subject to any action taken by parliament under its standing orders, we have instructions to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion, including placing before the Constitutional Court, the competing issues of parliamentary privilege and the rights of individuals, and corporates to their good reputations and names…,” they added.
On Monday, the Zimra top-man and his organisation also sent a letter to the three national papers complaining about the possible abuse of parliamentary privilege in tackling national issues, including the so-called salary-gate scandal. The letter was also copied to the Kwekwe-based legislator.
In it, the lawyers said the tone of the articles not only suggested Pasi and Zimra were corrupt, but the revenue collection body’s affairs were shambolic.
Crucially, Kantor and Immerman had been instructed to pursue the “highly-defamatory” matter or assertions and to see whether Chikwinya’s privileges superseded other individuals’ privacy, and dignity rights in terms of the new constitution.