By Staff Reporter
PARLIAMENT’S Mines and Energy Committee chair Temba Mliswa has denied charges that his anti-corruption crusade is related to an attempt to settle personal scores with those who once hounded him out of Zanu PF.
Mliswa, now independent legislator for Norton, has launched an inquiry into the massive plunder of alluvial diamonds from Marange since the time formal mining operations began in the area around 2009.
The campaign has put the legislator on the spot as well as embarrass powerful politicians.
Former President Robert Mugabe once said up to $15 billion worth of the gems could have been extracted from the Marange area by mining firms and cartels linked to his ruling Zanu PF party, with hardly more than $2 billion flowing into the national coffers.
Mugabe, who was then in control of the entire State security apparatus which he could easily command to launch a full-scale investigation into the plunder failed to probe the scandal during his tenure.
However, it has taken one less powerful legislator who is armed with nothing more than his determination and his legislative mandate to resurrect the matter through a parliamentary inquiry that has brought top politicians and senior members of security before his committee.
Asked what was driving his resolve to pursue arguably the country’s biggest scandal involving state resources since independence, Mliswa said he was merely exercising his oversight functions on State leaders.
“It’s my mandate from the people to make sure that I represent them effectively. That is what you call effective representation, nothing more nothing less.
“Effective representation. Holding state institutions accountable. Having oversight and representation; that’s what it is about,” he said.
Mliswa was once the Zanu PF legislator for Hurungwe West and also occupied the powerful post of being party chair for Mashonaland Central.
Even in the ruling party, his firebrand stance earned him more enemies than friends, at one time accusing then Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri of being the most corrupt Zimbabwean.
For that, Mliswa was arrested and detained several times for alleged offences which include violence, extortion and property seizure. At one time, he faced over 70 charges.
The former fitness trainer was also among the many Zanu PF bigwigs who were thrown out of the party 2015 for allegedly being part of an elaborate plot fronted by then Vice President Joice Mujuru to remove Mugabe as President.
Mliswa and his legislative committee have since put up a spirited effort to also bring Chihuri and Mugabe before them, drawing the attention of locals and those outside for a very rare stance against the often untouchable elite.
He denies his push was meant to embarrass his former tormentors and settling personal scores against them.
“Why would I pursue a personal score?” Mliswa said, adding, “I have never been in diamond mining myself.
“I don’t own a mine first of all. I have never done a tender; the only thing I have is my farm, the tobacco business which I have.
“It’s just my desire to see the country forward and to get office bearers to account. They must be able to do the right thing.”
Mliswa has also denied he feared for his life after his predecessor and then MP for Guruve South, Edward Chindori-Chininga, died in a car crash in his constituency in 2013 with foul play linked to his demise.
During the time, Chininga had tried to use his position as the chairman of the portfolio committee to get to the truth about the Marange diamonds.