Drama in Parliament as Wadyajena, Musarara clash

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Mugove Tafirenyika
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
tafirenyikam@dailynews.co.zw  
©️  THERE was drama in Parliament yesterday when Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (Gmaz) chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara clashed with the portfolio committee on Agriculture after it denied him the right to legal representation while presenting evidence.
Musarara had been petitioned to give evidence to the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-chaired committee on the whereabouts of at least US$26,1 million released by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) between 2016 and 2017 for the purchase of wheat for millers.
Since last year, the committee has been gathering evidence from various stakeholders amid suspicions the money either vanished or benefited a small clique connected to Musarara through his company, Drotsky Investments.
Wadyajena told Musarara, who  had been asked to explain how Drotsky Investments ended up importing the wheat instead of Gmaz, that only he could directly respond to questions, not his lawyer Lewis Uriri.
“We object to that because the Clerk of Parliament conceded to us exercising our constitutional right …I will not accept that. Your interpretation of the letter by the clerk is wrong,” Musarara protested in between interjections by Wadyajena.
The Gokwe-Nembudziya MP offered to re-read clerk Kennedy Chokuda’s letter.
“Order please. Let us follow the rules. The letter reads ‘…however, all the questions will be put to you. You will solely be responsible for responding, but you will be allowed to consult your lawyer’, that is what it says. You have the copy, don’t you?” Wadyajena said.
The argument that ensued prompted both of them to seek clarification form Chokuda,which came out in Wadyajena’s favour.
He immediately announced that his committee had wound up its investigation and started preparing its report to be tabled before Parliament on the basis of documentary evidence obtained from RBZ governor John Mangudya.
“The counsel to Parliament stands by the interpretation of the letter that I gave. Now that we understand you have made a court application, you are excused because the matter is before the courts now. We are, however, proceeding with our report basing on the documents availed to us by RBZ governor John Mangudya showing that you got about $28 million for wheat imports. While you proceed with your court process, we are proceeding with our parliamentary process and prepare a report which we will table before the House,” Wadyajena said.
He added that all they wanted from Musarara was for him to avail the contract agreement signed between Gmaz and Drotsky, Gmaz and the suppliers, the request for a quotation as well as Zimbabwe Revenue Authority acquittals to prove that all transactions were above board.
But Musarara told the media outside Parliament he had done everything above board, including importing the wheat through his company because the eight millers that were supposed to benefit from the wheat had been experiencing foreign currency challenges.
“The millers decided that the wheat be imported under my company’s name and the RBZ even admits that the money went straight to Holbud Limited’s account in London, not Drotsky. What my company only did was to receive the wheat on behalf of the millers. None of the millers was prejudiced.
“We are really not happy with Wadyajena’s conduct and we have thus made a court application. We wonder why he is in a hurry to produce a report without waiting for the court process yet he is aware it is an urgent matter. We have always argued that the committee will not treat us fairly because the chairperson is conflicted because he is also into the transport business,” Musarara said.
 The Gmaz boss said he had made an urgent High Court application seeking an order to force Parliament to accept that he be represented by his lawyer when he gives evidence before the committee.
When Mangudya appeared before the same committee last year, he indicated that the RBZ had released US$27 million to the Gmaz between 2017 and 2019 for the importation of wheat.

 

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