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Roundup Bulletin No. 14 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
May 03, 2012
Committee resumed its hearings yesterday on the prima facie case
of contempt of Parliament
brought against the former Administrator of Shabanie Mashava Mines,
Mr. Arafas Gwaradzimba. Two witnesses, namely, the Chairman of the
Mines Portfolio Committee Hon. Edward Chndori-Chininga and the NewsDay
Senior Parliamentary Reporter Veneranda Landa were cross-examined
by the defence counsel and the Committee Members.
Examination of Witnesses in the Gwaradzimba Case
In its first meeting,
the Privileges Committee resolved to adopt a “jury approach”
in its investigation of the matter relating to the alleged contempt
of parliament by Mr. Arafas Gwaradzimba, the Shabanie Mashava Mines
(SMM) Administrator, who was appointed by government to reconstruct
the collapsed company.
The respondent, Mr. Gwaradzimba
attended the hearing accompanied by his defence counsel, Mr. Simplisius
First to be cross-examined
by the defence counsel was the Mines Portfolio Committee Chairman
Hon. Edward Chindori-Chininga who argued that Mr. Gwaradzimba’s
interview that appeared in the Newsday of 3 March was contemptuous
of parliament and defamatory to the Mines Committee Members.
In the aforementioned
NewsDay article, Mr. Gwaradzimba was quoted as having said “the
work of the committee has been detrimental to our efforts to court
investors because they are alarmists and it scares off investors”.
In the same article, Mr. Gwaradzimba is alleged to have questioned
the integrity of the Mines Committee Members when he said, “...
if these MPs are honorable Members...” He also said that the
public hearings that the Mines Portfolio Committee conducted at
Shabanie and Mashava mines were “irresponsible”. Mr.
Gwaradzimba also insinuated that some Mines Committee Members had
ulterior moves “than to see SMM survive”.
The Mines Portfolio Committee
deemed the above-cited statements to be contemptuous of parliament
and also having the effect of undermining the work of the Committee.
However, the defence
counsel denied in yesterday’s hearing that the statements
were either defamatory to the Committee Members or contemptuous
Although Hon. Chindori-Chininga
was equal to the task during cross-examination, he made a formal
complaint to the Committee that he had not been given adequate time
to prepare for the hearing and neither was he informed what kind
of information was required, yet the respondent was given all the
information in advance and he also had the luxury of a defence team.
Hon. Chindori-Chininga’s complaint was somewhat unfairly ruled
out of order by the Privileges Committee Chairman, Hon. Paul Mangwana.
The NewsDay Reporter
Veneranda Langa stood by her story and disputed the defence counsel’s
allegations that the report was inaccurate and sensationalized to
sell the paper. In her defence, Ms. Langa said the article in question
unlike other news stories was a Question and Answer type of a story.
She explained that a question and answer story was published verbatim
without any editorials to the content of the story. She further
informed the Committee that she was a professional short-hand writer,
a skill that she gained when she worked as Hansard reporter at the
Parliament of Zimbabwe for more than 10 years. Hence there was no
way her story on the Gwaradzimba interview could have been inaccurate.
She further shocked the
defence counsel when she read out cellphone text messages from Mr.
Gwaradzimba on the interview. In one of the text messages Mr. Gwaradzimba
thanked the reporter for the interview and acknowledged the accuracy
of the story. The defence counsel objected to the submission of
the cellphone text messages as part exhibits. Mr. Chihambakwe argued
that the cellphone text messages were one-sided as they only showed
in-coming messages from Mr. Gwaradzimba but out-going messages from
Ms. Langa were not recorded. The Committee said it will make a decision
at a later stage regarding the admissibility of those phone messages.
The Committee indicated that it may approach the mobile phone service
provider to submit a transcript showing the full conversation between
Mr. Gwaradzimba and Ms. Langa.
will continue next week on Tuesday 8 May 2011 at 1030 hours, where
the Committee will cross-examine Mr. Gwaradzimba before wrapping
up the investigation.
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