BY VENERANDA LANGA
LEGISLATORS yesterday rubbished a report by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee, set up to investigate four MPs on allegations of trying to get a $400 000 bribe from Bulawayo businessman James Goddard, saying it was embarrassing that Parliament investigated rumours started by alleged conman Shepherd Tundiya.
Legislators from across the political divide said the report should be thrown away, adding that the Privileges Committee chaired by Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira which investigated legislators Temba Mliswa (Norton), Anele Ndebele (Magwegwe), Leornard Chikomba (Gokwe Kabuyuni) and Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North) investigated spurious allegations from newspaper reports (The Herald).
Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala (MDC Alliance) said Parliament was setting a bad precedent as at law, people could not be charged on the basis of third party evidence from newspapers.
“The whole Parliament went on a wild goose chase on the basis of a Herald report and put in place a Privileges Committee based on rumours,” he said.
“For example, the deputy secretary for Zanu PF youth, Lewis Matutu, held a Press conference and accused certain MPs and you, Mr Speaker (Jacob Mudenda), of corruption and so, can Parliament then take that information at a Press conference and charge you for contempt of Parliament? We cannot base issues on hearsay and we want to preserve the dignity of this Parliament,” he said.
Sikhala said it was, therefore, unfair to drag the names of the four MPs into the issue as it had irreparably damaged their reputations.
“The reports were brought by Tundiya, who is a conman, and to set up a Privileges Committee on the allegations of a conman surely will destroy the dignity of Parliament,” he said.
Harare East MP Tendai Biti (MDC Alliance) said while the House should not condone corruption, the stigma on the four MPs could not be erased.
“When you read Senator Chief (Fortune) Charumbira’s report, it is full of circumstantial situations and speculative innuendos and unjustified assumptions that once an MP is in touch with members of the public then there is a corruption motive. Surely, that is not correct,” Biti said.
He said the recommendations by the Privileges Committee that the four must be charged for meeting Goddard at night purporting to be a committee of Parliament must be dismissed with contempt as they did not hold substance and the rules were clear on how a parliamentary committee is constituted, which was not the case pertaining to the meeting.
“It was, therefore, unfair for the four MPs to be found guilty on the alternative crime which was not on the charge sheet,” Biti said.
Chegutu West MP Dextor Nduna (Zanu PF) said although he had beef with Mliswa and had slammed him with a $10 million lawsuit, he supported that Parliament should dismiss the report.
Shurugwi North MP Robson Ronald Nyathi (Zanu PF) also said Parliament should dismiss the report fronted by “a conman Tundiya”, who made Parliament to discuss things of no value.
Makoni South MP Misheck Mataranyika (Zanu PF), who moved that a Privileges Committee be set up to investigate the four MPs, claimed it was useful as the four later thanked him for the opportunity to clear their names.
Makonde MP Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) then moved that the report be dismissed, but Mudenda said Charumbira should respond to issues raised by MPs first.