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MPs Debate Mliswa Bribery Charges

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By Anna Chibamu

SOME legislators from both Zanu PF and MDC Tuesday showed a rare form of camaraderie when they joined hands in roundly condemning a decision made last year by Parliament to investigate Norton MP, Temba Mliswa and three other MPs for alleged corruption.

Mliswa, an independent MP, Zanu PF’s Gokwe Kabuyuni MP, Leonard Chikomba, Magwegwe MP Anele Ndebele and Binga North MP, Prince Sibanda both from the MDC were last year brought before a parliamentary investigating committee to answer to charges of soliciting for a US$400 000 bribe from businessman, Joss Ross Goddard.

Mliswa was then chairperson of the Parliamentary Mines Committee while the other three MPs were committee members.

However, they were exonerated of any wrong-doing, but a ruling has not yet been made on the allegations.

Discussing the latest developments in Parliament Tuesday, MDC Vice President and Harare East MP said the charges brought against the four MPs were “frivolous and unjustifiable”.

“This House does not condone corruption. This House has many committees that are investigating corruption issues. For example, at the Lands and Public Accounts committees, we say no to corruption,” said Biti.

“But where an allegation of corruption has been made, it has a stigma that affects the person and it is difficult to erase. There must be high standards of scrutiny and proof should be beyond any doubt.

“When you read the report of the esteemed chairperson of the privileges committee, Senator (Fortune) Charumbira, the report is full of circumstantial evidence, full of speculative innuendos; it is full of unjustifiable assumption.

“The fundamental assumption being made there is that once an honourable member of Parliament is in touch with another Member of Parliament, then there is a corrupt motive. Surely Honourable Speaker, that is incorrect. Our duty is to engage.

“The unstated premise that any member of Parliament who comes in contact with any member of the public is for corrupt motive is wrong.”

MDC Zengeza West MP, Job Sikhala also criticised Parliament for allowing the Privileges Committee to investigate the MPs over “hearsay information”.

Sikhala urged Parliament to acquit the MPs as the charges never existed from the start.

“It is sad that Parliament today is made to discuss issues that did not exist at all. Allegations originated from a newspaper report and we know at law that we are not supposed to charge a person on the basis of third party information provided without evidence,” said Sikhala.

“The whole Parliament went on to chase a white horse on the basis of a newspaper article. So the whole Parliament coming here to put a Privileges Committee to charge and investigate individual members of a committee basing on rumours; it was unfair, their names have been severely damaged defamed on the basis of a lie. We want to preserve the dignity of this institution and learn from today never to take outside information and bring it to this house.”

However, Zanu PF Makoni South MP Misheck Mataranyika, who moved the motion to have the investigations carried out on the four MPs told the House he had no regrets over his decision.

“I have a clear record. I wanted the four investigated on the allegations raised.”

Mataranyika warned other MPs found on the wrong side of the law would face disciplinary action to rid the country of corrupt people.