SPEAKER of the House of Assembly John Nkomo yesterday ruled that the Minister of Industry and International Trade Obert Mpofu must be charged for contemp
t of parliament for allegedly lying under oath when he appeared before a parliamentary portfolio committee in connection with the Zisco looting affair.
Nkomo said Mpofu has a case to answer. If found guilty, Mpofu faces a fine or up to two years in jail, or both.
This follows a complaint by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade that Mpofu committed perjury.
“The Speaker has had the opportunity to study the material and rules that an offence exists. The minister, under oath, referred to information that he said implicated other Members of Parliament (in the Zisco looting). He however later denied the existence of the information without retracting the previous statements,” Nkomo said.
“These facts clearly disclose a prima facie case of falsifying information before parliament and so there is a case of contempt of parliament.”
Ruling Zanu PF MPs reacted with general calm, while opposition MDC MPs celebrated. MDC MP Job Sikhala shouted that Mpofu was “finished”. “Obert wasviba, aenda uyu, you are gone shamwari (your reputation is tarnished and you are gone my friend),” he said.
Acting Leader of the House Emmerson Mnangagwa said a committee must be appointed to try Mpofu. “I move a motion that a privileges committee be appointed to investigate,” he said.
The committee will hear evidence from members of the parliamentary portfolio committee and from Mpofu himself. It will then submit its findings and recommendations to the House which can either endorse or reject them.
This is the same process which was followed when former MDC MP Roy Bennett was jailed by parliament for a year after he floored Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa in 2004.