Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday escaped censure for allegedly contravening the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act regarding the possession of bearer share certificates belonging to Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) Holdings.
The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo, yesterday made a ruling on the issue involving Chinamasa and SMM administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba after it was brought before the august House by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy chaired by Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga.
The committee had asked Parliament to investigate the two for contempt of Parliament.
However, SMM administrator Gwaradzimba was not so lucky and Moyo ruled there was sufficient evidence to investigate him for having possibly contravened the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act.
During investigations on the SMM issue, the committee established Chinamasa had made a commitment under oath to present the bearer share certificates as proof of government ownership of SMM Holdings, but failed to do so.
Chinamasa had allegedly told the committee that
SMM was now 100% owned by government and the share certificates were ceded to government by T & N.
But, Moyo said the portfolio committee should have tried other avenues as stipulated in terms of Section 9 of the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act to get Chinamasa to hand over those documents.
He said if they had requested through summons by Parliament and if Chinamasa had failed to do that, then it would have been sufficient enough to charge him with contempt of Parliament.
“It is a fact that the committee did not exhaust all the legal processes at its disposal in its endeavour to secure the production of the bearer share certificates by Chinamasa. Accordingly, the chair rules that there is no prima facie case against Minister Chinamasa,” said Moyo.
Although Moyo said there was no solid case against Chinamasa, he, however, also told Parliament the portfolio committee had the discretion to revisit the matter pertaining to Chinamasa with the intention to finalise the issue.
Moyo also gave a stern warning to all ministers and said they should respect the institution of Parliament by timeously responding to requests made to them.
On Gwaradzimba, Moyo said the utterances he had made in the Press could reasonably be deemed to have demeaned the proceedings and character of the portfolio committee or character of Parliament.
“Examples of such utterances are that he said the MPs involved in the investigation of the matter are not honourable, that they work for Mutumwa Mawere, that they are alarmists with special interests in SMM Holdings and that they were shouting at him (Gwaradzimba). These utterances establish a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament,” said Moyo.
Mawere, a Zimbabwean tycoon based in South Africa, is battling to regain control of SMM.
Moyo said in the case of Gwaradzimba, Parliament found enough evidence to warrant the appointment of a committee on privileges to look into the matter.