No evidence against ‘dirty dozen’ MPs

via No evidence against ‘dirty dozen’ MPs – DailyNews Live 6 October 2014 by Chengetai Zvauya

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF has said it cannot discipline the “dirty dozen” legislators accused of soliciting for donations from Washington because there is no evidence against them.

Rugare Gumbo, the Zanu PF spokesperson, told the   Daily News  that the  matter was not discussed in the politburo meeting last Wednesday because there was no solid information  that  the 12 MPs had received anything from US embassy officials.

“We did not discuss the issue and I don’t think any MPs will be punished by the party over the matter,” Gumbo said.

“However, it does not mean the party leadership wants its legislators to receive money from the US embassy. President Robert Mugabe is on record condemning legislators receiving money from foreign missions.”

Bruce Wharton, the United States of America ambassador to Zimbabwe, has said  in the past 10 years, the US Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Programme has disbursed more than $1 million in small grants (generally of $5 000 to $10 000) to community groups for projects that the communities themselves conceive, apply for, and manage.

“No Zimbabwean MPs or any other politicians at any level of government have ever received any funding from this programme,” Wharton said.

“This year these funds will assist Bulawayo-based Loving Hand install a water tank for people in the resettled village of Masi. They will assist households affected by HIV/Aids construct low-cost poultry cages and raise awareness of HIV/Aids in Guruve.

“They will enable an organisation in Chipinge South procure a grinding mill and fruit and vegetable dryers as well as conduct HIV/Aids training for youth.”

He said the grants were awarded competitively according to grant criteria, and development priorities and were non-political.

“Areas of emphasis include income generation, education and vocational training, access to water and improved natural resource management as well as health, nutrition and social services to assist vulnerable populations,” Wharton said.

“While we do seek to make these grants available equitably in all parts of Zimbabwe, we do everything we can to keep the process and the grants non-political.”

Four of the MPs in the spying controversy — including Tapiwa Matangaidze (Shurugwi South), Kindness Paradza (Makonde), Enock Porusingazi (Chipinge South) and the Movement for Democratic Change’s Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma) — have claimed that they allegations were part of the Zanu PF infighting.

The other perceived “spies” include Hurungwe West legislator Temba Mliswa, Paul Mavhima (Gokwe Sengwa), Walter Kanhanga (Guruve North) Adam Chimwamurombe (Chipinge West), Chriswell Mutematsaka (Guruve South), Batsirayi Pemhanayi (Mutare North), David Butau (Mbire) and Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Uzumba).

With Zanu PF’s elective  congress only two months away, party members have unleashed a mudslinging  and  smear campaign. Zanu PF is currently embroiled in nasty factional fights, involving Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The reprieve came as “dirty dozen” MPs were demanding a meeting with Mugabe, to give their side of story. All the legislators have denied soliciting for donations from Washington, with US local embassy staffer Eric Little, allegedly at the heart of the spying saga.

It also alleged the MPs received money as grants and aid amounting to $90 000 disbursed to their constituencies through non-governmental organisations as projects to enhance their communities.

The 12 MPs have said they welcomed an investigation to enable them to clear their names and shame their political rivalries.

Some have threatened lawsuits against the State media, pointedly against minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Jonathan Moyo, who has also denied spearheading the campaign.

They have been accusations and counter-accusations between the legislators and Moyo, with both sides accusing each other of being handled by the American spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).