Nieebgate: Zanu PF MPs demand answers

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HARARE – Some Zanu PF Members of Parliament have come out guns blazing demanding answers on how the indigenisation programme was implemented, as the Nieebgate Scandal exposed by the Daily News rages on.

Legislators from the Mines and Energy portfolio committee, drawn from Zanu PF and the MDC formations, have been attending a three-day workshop in the resort town of Vumba — and yesterday questioned the implementation of the programme saying there were some anomalies.

Last month, the Daily News exposed apparent flaws in the $971 million Zimplats deal — touted as the biggest empowerment deal since independence in 1980.

Other indigenisation deals for top-earning companies have also since been questioned, triggering a public indignation that also saw corruption sniffers from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission trying to pounce on the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (Nieeb).

Ironically a local company, Brainworks Capital, was consultant in the seven deals involved that have caused a furore in government.

The portfolio committee argues that Nieeb should have consulted with all tiers including Parliament before rushing to sign the controversial deals which would have seen government losing out to foreign companies had the Daily News not exposed the scam.

The committee has already indicated that it plans to summon Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Savior Kasukuwere when Parliament resumes sitting next month to explain the scandal.

Signalling a potentially explosive showdown between the Executive and the Legislature when Parliament resumes sitting — Zanu PF legislator Simbaneuta Mudarikwa questioned why Kasukuwere forged ahead with a programme that is designed to empower the broad masses without consulting parliamentarians.

“The MPs are not involved in the implementation of the community share ownership schemes and why is this happening?” queried Mudarikwa, who said the fact that they were side-lined contributed to the near-collapse of the programme.

Chairperson of the committee, Edward Chindori-Chininga a Zanu PF MP, warned that if the programme is not carefully implemented, Zimbabwe will slide the Zambian way and eventually abandon the policy.

“Zambia had a policy called Zambianisation and it failed because it was not properly implemented.
 
“In Zimbabwe, we are going to face the same problem because if President Mugabe wins the next election, a new minister may come in and change the whole policy,” he said.

Chindori-Chininga also told the Daily News recently that Parliament will “always carry out our responsibilities as mandated by laws of Zimbabwe without due influence”.

He has in the past told the Daily News that no amount of intimidation will derail the body from carrying out its constitutional mandate of getting to the bottom of the matter and any other issues that will arise.

Michael Fungati, a director in the troubled ministry, told parliamentarians the decision to circumvent Parliament was a deliberate move to avoid politicisation of the programme.

“We needed institutions which are impartial like chiefs and rural district officers. (These institutions) are going to be there forever but parliamentarians will come and go,” said Fungati.

But legislators rejected Fungati’s defence, setting the stage for a potentially-explosive encounter with Kasukuwere who has already been adjudged to be off-side by Mugabe on the issue.

Vice President Joice Mujuru has also torn into the mass empowerment programme saying it should not be abused to benefit a few individuals.

Pressed by lawmakers, Fungati who was representing the Indigenisation ministry, admitted that his ministry had made some mistakes.

“We admit we made some mistakes and we are trying to correct them. So we have put some proposals to the Attorney General’s office to review the Act. We are going to make more consultation in the mining sector so that we correct everything,” said Fungati.

MDC MP Pearson Mungofa said: “Yes, we grilled him (Fungati) but he was not giving satisfactory answers.
 
“I wanted him to clarify certain things in the deals, but he could not give answers,” said Mungofa who said MPs from both Zanu PF and the two MDC formations are prepared to take Kasukuwere to task over implementation of the programme. – Chengetai Zvauya and Fungi Kwaramba

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