Mliswa faces contempt charges

via Mliswa faces contempt charges | The Herald 4 September 2014 by Zvamaida Murwira

CHAIRPERSON of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu-PF), on Tuesday instituted contempt of parliament charges against Hurungwe West National Assembly member Cde Temba Mliswa (Zanu-PF) over utterances he made to the media, insinuating improper conduct by some members of the committee.
The charges stemmed from an interview granted by Cde Mliswa to journalists in April this year where he alleged that some Members of Parliament were bribed by business tycoon, Mr Billy Rautenbach, not to question his dealings in the Chisumbanje ethanol plant during oral evidence before the committee.

Cde Wadyajena on Tuesday formally presented a complaint against Cde Mliswa who is also Zanu-PF Mashonaland West provincial chairperson in the National Assembly and asked the Speaker Cde Jacob Mudenda, to make a ruling on whether Cde Mliswa was not in breach of the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act.

Cde Mudenda said he would soon make a ruling after carefully studying the relevant legal statutes.
If Cde Mudenda rules that where there are reasonable grounds to suspect possible breach, he will constitute a committee to make enquiries, which would eventually compile a report for tabling before Parliament with recommendations and penalties for debate and adoption.

In his submission, Cde Wadyajena said his committee was concerned by comments attributed to Cde Mliswa in the The Herald of April 3, 2014.
“Noting that Hon Mliswa has not rebutted or challenged the authenticity of the statement, the Committee therefore concludes that the Press report accurately captured what is attributed to him,” said Cde Wadyajena.

The alleged statements were as follows: “Billy (Rautenbach) has also got into Parliament and already has corrupted some Members of Parliament.
“You were there when that whole committee was held of indigenisation, there were Members of Parliament who were paid to haggle the chairman even asked the chairman to stand up, can’t you see that? But some of us are not moved by that.

“There were no noises because Members of Parliament had been paid to say what they needed to say. There are Members of Parliament who are in Billy’s constituency who had approached me that can we mediate between me and Billy and I said no.”

Cde Wadyajena said the committee took great exception to the allegations as they felt the comments had the potential to create deep suspicion among MPs thus dividing the committee.

“This has the potential to undermine the integrity and image of the committee and Parliament itself.  This may also compromise the ability of the committee to execute its mandate and functions. Therefore it is necessary for Hon Mliswa to substantiate his allegations by way of furnishing Parliament with evidence, which informed his alleged statements to the Press,” said Cde Wadyajena.

“It is the contention of the committee that if Hon Mliswa is able to substantiate his allegations this will point to a possible breach of privilege by some members of the committee. However, if Hon Mliswa is unable to substantiate his allegations, there could be a prima facie breach of privilege on his part.”

Cde Wadyajena listed some of the offences created by the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act (Chapter 2:08).
They included offering to or accepting by a member of officer of Parliament of a bribe to influence him or her in his or her conduct, offering a member a fee, compensation, gift or reward for or in respect of promotion of or opposition to any Bill, petition, resolution, motion or other matter or thing.

Another offence included publishing a defamatory statement reflecting on the proceedings or character of Parliament or committee.
Cde Mliswa addressed journalists after he was embroiled in a dispute with Mr Rautenbach where the politician claimed that the business tycoon owed him US$165 million.

The dispute stemmed from money Cde Mliswa said he was owed for facilitating Mr Rautenbach’s interests in Hwange Colliery, Unki Platinum Mine and the Chisumbanje ethanol plant.