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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWEAN MPs want to impeach Industry and Trade Minister Obert Mpofu for lying under oath over the unraveling Ziscosteel saga, parliamentary sources said Thursday.

A member of a parliamentary committee investigating the pillaging of the state-run steelmaker by high ranking Zanu PF officials Friday said his committee would move a motion to charge Mpofu under the Parliamentary Privileges and Immunity Act.

The MP said: “It is clear that Mpofu committed a crime. He took us for a ride and as a committee we have resolved to recommend that the minister be charged."

When Mpofu initially appeared before the committee two weeks ago, he claimed massive corruption by high ranking politicians at Ziscosteel, only to backtrack a week later.

On Friday the Zimbabwe Independent qouted the committe's chairman as saying the report on the alleged graft had disappeared, just a week after Didymus Mutasa, the State Security Minister, told New Zimbabwe.com in an interview that the report "doesn't exist".

"Mystery now surrounds the report. (Anti Corrution Minister Paul) Mangwana says he does not have it. Mpofu can't produce it either," Enoch Porusingazi, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade said.

Last week, we reported that the committee intends to recall Mpofu to explain "inconsistencies" in his evidence to the MP's. There has been a hardening of positions since then, with members of the committee now seeking to charge Mpofu with lying -- the first time such a drastic step would have been taken against a minister.

Mpofu and Mangwana have been under pressure after Zanu PF's warring factions closed ranks to thwart publication of the report said to implicate senior ministers in the looting of Ziscosteel assets.

The National Economic Conduct Inspectorate, run by an elite team of Central Intelligence Organisation officers, last week recalled the report from a selected few officials who had copies to prevent a leak, sources said.

And State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, to whom the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate reports, twisted the knife on Mpofu when he said: "If Mpofu knows some corrupt ministers as he claims, why doesn't he come out and say ministers X or Y looted Zisco?

"I am the minister of State Security and what I am saying is that I haven't seen the report."

Asked if that meant that Mpofu had misled parliament about the existence of the report, Mutasa replied: "Yes, I am saying it doesn't exist."

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said in July the central bank had saved Ziscosteel from closure by providing an emergency $2 trillion (old currency) lifeline.

He said production at the company had plunged by 88% from 14 200 to 1 600 metric tonnes in February. The firm is saddled with foreign debts in excess of US$126 million. Ziscosteel is one in a chain of major parastatals which are technically insolvent.

Indian company Global Steel Holdings recently withdrew from a US$400 million contract at Ziscosteel after it was angered by operational chaos at the local firm and shortages of critical inputs such as coking coal, spare parts, fuel, as well as plant and equipment.
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