Kazembe dodges questions on ‘coup plot’

HOME Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe yesterday appeared in Parliament but dodged questions to do with the alleged coup plot fears, saying “these are sensitive State security matters.”

BY VENERANDA LANGA

This was after MDC Alliance vice-president Lynette Karenyi-Kore raised the issue in the National Assembly and demanded answers from Kazembe.

“A coup represents the highest form of constitutional infraction, and so on what policy basis did Kazembe make a Press statement last week about a coup — and if you had any substance why were the planners of the coup not arrested?” she asked.

In response Kazembe said: “I stand guided by your Honourable office (Mr Speaker) whether I can speak to matters of national security.”

Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala and MDC Alliance deputy chairperson immediately interjected and shouted “why did you not arrest me?”

Last week, Kazembe and members of the National Security Council jointly addressed a Press conference in Harare where he named Sikhala and former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere among the suspected coup plotters.

As opposition MPs pressured Kazembe to answer, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda then asked the minister to approach his chair and together with Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi they discussed how to respond.

“As alluded earlier on — when I gave a Press statement it was on behalf of the Committee of the National Security Council. These issues are of a sensitive nature and what I gave to the nation was enough. The final details cannot be given because they will compromise national security,” Kazembe said later on.

Mudenda then quashed the issue saying that in terms of national security some details could not be revealed in Parliament. But Karenyi-Kore challenged the ruling saying “as a woman in this country when the issue of a coup was announced it aroused fear. If the minister had no evidence then why did he announce something that caused panic and pandemonium to the people?”

Sikhala also stood up and demanded to know how he was cited as one of the coup plotters.

“In terms of section 119 of the Constitution, MPs have the right to hold the Executive to account for the discharge of their duties. The announcement caused alarm and despondency and the minister named people including myself in those allegations. Insinuations made by Kazembe have very devastating consequences on the named individuals.

“I now feel that my safety and security is at risk because I am alleged to be a coup plotter. I have a right to be heard and we want to hear his evidence because the coup is linked to one person who is an MP,”

Mudenda responded: “I did not follow the statement and I will need to have a conversation with Kazembe and study the full statement given publicly and then make a ruling not later than two weeks.”

In an unrelated matter, Ziyambi was also asked by Mabvuku Tafara MP James Chidhakwa to explain why government did not follow the Procurement Act in COVID 19 procurements with reference to a tender to Delish Nguwaya’s Drax International where government ended up buying COVID-19 materials from the latter at exorbitant prices.

“Indeed in normal circumstances the procedure is to follow the procurement regulations but if there is an emergency that is not the procedure,” Ziyambi responded.

Kambuzuma MP Willas Madzimure then asked him to explain the emergency with COVID-19 to not follow procurement regulations when there were not even 100 people hospitalised for the pandemic and the emergency in awarding a contract to Drax which then sold the COVID-19 equipment at exorbitant prices.

“The MP is not an epidemiologist to know how diseases emerge. We follow World Health Organisation and the advice of health experts and we believe the course we are taking is right and we will continue until the generality of Zimbabweans are saved,” Ziyambi said.

Harare North MP Norman Markharm piled on, asking Ziyambi to explain if he did not see anything wrong with the Drax pricing structure, of which he responded by saying ‘when there is an emergency, procurement regulations do not apply but pertaining to the specific Drax issue the MP may put that in writing.”

Ziyambi was also asked by Marondera MP Caston Matewo when the Auditor-General will be instructed to conduct an audit on COVID-19 procurement.

“First there is no opaqueness in COVID-19 donations, the Minister of Information has been publishing them in the media. At this stage we cannot concentrate on audits while fighting COVID-19. At the end (of COVID-19) we can do the audit,” Ziyambi said.

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