State procurement board chairman Charles Kuwaza has been found in contempt of parliament.
Kuwaza, a close relative of president Robert Mugabe and previously untouchable, appeared before a committee and refused to answer questions, once claiming falsely that he had e-mailed responses to the Clerk when in fact he had not.
Speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda said Thursday a committee would be set up to investigate the matter further.
Kuwaza could be sentenced to a rare jail term or even rarer fine for the alleged offence.
“The Chair, therefore, rules that the alleged conduct by Mr. Kuwaza constitutes a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament, and further rules that an ad hoc Committee be established to enquire into the matter,” said Mudenda.
“It is apparent that Mr. Kuwaza refused to be examined before or to answer any lawful and relevant questions put by Parliament or the Committee and prevaricated as a witness before Committee and thus, was in direct violation of the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act [Chapter 2:08].”
The ruling sought to address a point of order raised on Wednesday the 29 July 2015 by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy Lovemore Matuke. He stated that the Committee on Mines and Energy in performing its oversight function, had been conducting an enquiry into the tendering system of electricity sector projects. Accordingly, the Committee invited Mr. Charles Kuwaza, the Executive Chairperson of the State Procurement Board to a meeting, in order to gather pertinent facts on the operations of the State Procurement Board in respect of electricity sector projects.
Matuke stated that Kuwaza appeared before the Committee on Monday the 30th June, 2015 but failed to answer questions raised which led to the meeting being aborted so as to give him sufficient time to prepare his responses to the questions raised by the Committee. On Monday 6 July 2015, Kuwaza again appeared before the Committee. The Committee had documented additional questions which Kuwaza had been given in the first aborted meeting. After the formalities of taking oath and introductions, members of the Committee led by the Committee Chairperson, asked if Kuwaza had brought written responses to the two sets of questions that had been brought to his attention.
“It became apparent that Mr. Kuwaza had not prepared a written response to the questions as directed by the Committee,” Mudenda said. “When asked again to respond even orally to questions that were raised in the letter sent to him, Mr. Kuwaza indicated that he had sent an e-mail to the Clerk of Parliament dealing with only one issue of the mandate of State Procurement Board. Mr. Kuwaza could not even provide proof of the e-mail. Hon. Matuke stated that it was impressed upon Mr. Kuwaza that it was important for him to provide answers that had been lawfully posed, which was to no avail as Mr. Kuwaza became visibly abusive and at one point suggested that there was no order in the Committee.”
It is alleged that the conduct by Kuwaza has potential to impair and undermine the role and authority of Parliament in general and the work of the Committee in particular.
The Committee is of the view that Kuwaza’s failure to answer questions posed to him amounts to contempt of Parliament; Kuwaza misrepresented facts in the email sent to the Administration of Parliament; Kuwaza shouted, ‘Can we have order in this Committee,’ suggesting that the Committee was disorganised, after he had been asked to recuse himself from the meeting; Kuwaza’s arrogance, misrepresentation and refusal to respond directly impaired the work of the Committee in the discharge of its constitutional mandate.
© Now Media 2016. All Rights Reserved.