Anna Chibamu and Audience Mutema
A probe into MPs Temba Mliswa and his colleagues’ bribery allegations suffered stillbirth Monday after parliament’s privileges committee queried the hiring of MDC MP Job Sikhala as lawyer.
Norton MP, Mliswa, together with Magwegwe and Binga MPs Anele Ndebele and Prince Dubeko Sibanda are accused by businessman, James Goddard of trying to solicit for a US$400 000 bribe from him so that they would secure a contract for him at Hwange Colliery Mine.
The MPs committed the alleged offence when they constituted parliament’s mines and energy committee.
Ndebele and Sibanda have gone on to hire Zengeza West MP Sikhala as their lawyer.
However, this has not gone down well with the Fortune Charumbira led privileges committee which has vehemently objected the hiring of Sikhala.
“To have honourable Sikhala represent the two honourable members, Honourable Sibanda and Ndebele…will actually be improper in terms of the law,” Charumbira said.
“The majority view is that Sikhala cannot represent the two for the reasons that we have stated earlier.
“Your clients are free to seek any other lawyer of their choice who is not a member of the House of Assembly.
“If you believe your rights have been infringed, take other measures or route to seek recourse.”
However, Sikhala was not moved as he quickly stood up and challenged his disqualification.
Sikhala told the committee that the country’s constitution gave citizens the right to choose any lawyer of their choice.
He vowed to apply for any urgent chamber application for the courts to determine whether the privileges committee had the right to bar him from representing his clients.
“We are going to make an urgent chamber application for a stay of proceedings until a court makes a ruling. They are afraid of the hiring of lawyers who are acquainted with rules and regulations of parliament,” fumed Sikhala in a later interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
The inquiry process had to be adjourned twice to allow Charumbira and other committee members to deliberate on the matter.
The other issue of concern by the lawyers representing the MPs was that of evidence by some of the witnesses which was said to be missing.
Mliswa’s lawyer, Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara told NewZimbabwe.com that proceedings for this Tuesday should only go ahead when all necessary annexures are availed.
“If we are not furnished with all necessary annexures or evidence by the witnesses in the case, there will not be any proceedings,” said Zhuwarara.
After the second adjournment, the parties then agreed to start proceedings this Tuesday with James Goddard giving evidence to the committee first.
Among the witnesses is RBZ governor John Mangudya.