HATCLIFFE legislator Allan Markham says Parliament is protecting cabinet and the President from answering crucial questions, after Treasury for the fourth time failed to answer questions on the shareholding of Kuvimba Mining House and the Zimbabwe Asset Management Corporation (Zamco), raising questions on transparency and accountability.
This week, deputy Finance minister Clement Chiduwa stubbornly dragged his feet in furnishing Parliament with information on the two organisations, sparking an outcry from opposition MPs. The shadowy Kuvimba, which has been linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s adviser and businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei, has been acquiring vast public assets, with the government reluctant to reveal its beneficial owners.
Kuvimba’s records are not available at Zimbabwe’s company registry, and Ziwa Investments appears not to exist. However, a company called Ziwa Resources was registered by lawyers at Tagwirei’s law firm. Almas Global Opportunity Fund, formerly used by Tagwirei to invest in Sotic International via the Cayman Islands, owns 65% of Ziwa Resources.
The other 35% is owned by Zimbabwe-registered Pfimbi Resources, whose directors are Tagwirei and his wife. Kuvimba owns many of the same mines once owned by Sotic, which parliamentarians fear are being milked by politically connected elites.
According to a 10 December 2021, Zimbabwe stock market announcement, “Sotic and its associates” — likely Tagwirei, given his effective control of the firm — nominated an unknown Zimbabwean company, Kuvimba Mining House, to own some of the assets previously bought by Sotic, such as Bindura Mining Corporation, hence fears of illicit financial and mineral flows.
Markham said other than the Kuvimba issue, Parliament has been failing to bring to account government ministers who continually fail to attend National Assembly sessions to respond to crucial issues. “I think that Parliament is protecting the cabinet and the President. For the whole five years, most ministers have been absent.
“To date, they do not want to come to Parliament, particularly for question time. The ministers when called to bring a statement take a long time to respond. For example, the Home Affairs minister took more than four months to give a statement on the registration of people (national identity card).
“The minister of Agriculture has not answered the question on the payment of wheat farmers. The other thing that ministers and legislators are doing in Parliament is that they are lying that everything is alright, when they are not,” Markham said in an interview with The NewsHawks this week. He also said Parliament has been cutting short important debates, which has seen crucial issues being given little attention.
“The other thing is that when debating on pertinent issues, the debate is cut short, particularly if it is the opposition debating it. In my view, I accept that it was the minister and cabinet who do not want to answer the questions.
“However, I must not categorically say Parliament has failed totally to hold cabinet and ministers accountable,” Markham said. Markham said while cabinet ministers have been failing to attend Parliament, they have also been misrepresenting the truth.
“Yesterday, the Energy minister was telling us that things are being fixed, we are doing this and that — which he has been saying in the past two years. The power situation is now a disaster.”
Other parliamentarians have unsuccessfully demanded that President Mnangagwa and cabinet ministers attend Parliament to answer pressing questions after it emerged that they were misrepresenting the situation at hand.
In February, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) member of Parliament for Mbizo, Settlement Chikwinya, challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to attend the National Assembly and answer to pressing issues facing the country, saying his State of the Nation Address (Sona) grossly misrepresents the realities on the ground.
Mnangagwa, who had presented the Sona in the new US$200 million Parliament Building in Mt Hampden while officially opening the ninth Parliament, painted a rosey picture of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic situation.
However, Chikwinya and other opposition MPs said Mnangagwa must come to Parliament and answer questions on the country’s various pressing issues, while getting the facts from constituencies as is provided by the constitution.
“We must be able to direct the President to be factual because we are the members of Parliament who come from constituencies,” Chikwinya said.
“Instead of us answering to each other as members of Parliament, let us be guided by section 140 (3) of the constitution. Section 140 (3) of the constitution which directs as such – ‘The President may attend Parliament to answer questions on any issues as may be provided in the Standing Orders’. ”