BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
MINES minister Winston Chitando was yesterday kicked out of Parliament by angry MPs after he came late to give oral evidence.
Chitando had been invited to appear before the Edmond Mkaratigwa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines to speak on the ministry’s action plan in response to mining disasters.
An invite from the Parliament of Zimbabwe read: “The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines will be meeting with the Minister of Mines and Mining Development at 1100 hours at Parliament Building to discuss the follow up on the ministry’s action plan concerning mine disasters.”
MPs waited for Chitando to appear before them, but he was late. He arrived more than an hour late, which irked the legislators.
However, Chitando’s deputy Polite Kambamura arrived on time for the meeting, but he refused to give oral evidence on behalf of his superior.
Kambamura told MPs that Chitando was stuck in traffic in the central business district.
“We are trying to call him, but we are not getting any response. The last time that we spoke to him he said he was stuck in traffic congestion,” Kambamura told MPs.
This further annoyed the MPs who vented their anger on him.
“I have already made a ruling based on the information brought to us through the deputy minister (Kambamura). MPs have been waiting patiently and because of these delays — and as you can see it is now already in the afternoon and we cannot proceed with the meeting as scheduled,” Mkaratigwa said.
“The issue at hand is a serious one and considering the mine accidents that have happened, the bodies that are buried underground and inside mine shafts and the business of retrieving presumably dead bodies now are very urgent. It should not be set aside because we have postponed this meeting several times.
“Postponing the meeting to next year gives the ministry ample time to run around in conjunction with the efforts that have already been initiated by this portfolio committee whereupon we set up some sub-committees specifically for the Esigodini issue and another one in Chegutu,” he said.
When Chitando later arrived for the meeting, MPs did not entertain him, they turned him away.
In an address to journalists after he was kicked out of Parliament, Chitando said his ministry was working with the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) to co-ordinate rescue operations at the affected mines.
“There is actually activity that is taking place and rescue operations are being co-ordinated by the DCP in Esigodini and also there is mobilisation taking place for Chegutu. So, by January 11 a lot of developments would have been covered,” Chitando said.
Mine disasters have affected the country in the past few months, with several artisanal miners having been buried alive after mine shafts collapsed.
The incidents happened in Bindura, Esigodini, Chegutu and several other places. Chitando is set to appear before the committee on January 11 next year after MPs agreed to postpone the hearing.
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