A BLAZING war of words has erupted between outspoken legislators Justice Mayor Wadyajena and Temba Mliswa over control of the influential Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands and Agriculture.
Mliswa, who chairs the mines committee, wants Wadyajena kicked out of the lands committee, which he chairs, accusing him of being conflicted.
Documents in possession of the Zimbabwe Independent show that Mliswa unsuccessfully tried to lobby for the removal of Wadyajena from chairing the committee, arguing that he was compromised because of his business dispute with business mogul Kuda Tagwirei, whose company is a major funder of command agriculture.
In a letter to speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda dated November 28, Mliswa expressly stated that he wanted Wadyajena removed from chairing the committee because he would not act fairly.
“I hereby submit my official concern regarding Hon Justice Wadyajena’s chairmanship of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture with respect to the enquiries pertaining to command agriculture. Unfortunately, Hon Wadyajena, as competent as he may be, is conflicted in the matter of command agriculture. The point of conflict arises from past business disputes as encountered between himself and Mr Kuda Tagwirei, a financial facilitator for the command agriculture programme,” Mliswa wrote.
“During the period of the 8th Parliament, Hon Wadyajena was the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation. In an unprecedented and unprofessional move unbefitting of his Honourable Parliamentary role, Hon. Wadyajena blocked the parking area at Mr Tagwirei’s offices with his branded cars in an attempt to intimidate Mr Tagwirei to pay a certain amount in a claims dispute between the two parties.
Due to this unsavoury action, the then government leaders intervened and facilitated an amicable agreement that Hon Wadyajena receive an out of court settlement from Mr Tagwirei to the tune of US$2,5 million which obligation was fulfilled and ordinarily should have brought the matter to a close.”
“However, it did not. Now that we are in the 9th Parliament and Hon. Wadyajena is the current chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, he has unscrupulously gone on to recently bring the matter before the courts again in a bid to seek additional payment. Whilst I would not hasten to judge and label Hon Wadyajena’s actions as extortionist, the fact that he is currently at loggerheads with Mr Tagwirei, heightens the propensity for Hon Wadyajena to use the Parliamentary Committee as a platform to settle personal scores,” reads Mliswa’s letter, which was also copied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Information at hand however indicated that the wrangle between the two extends to other areas.
Mliswa, the information shows, has been trying to join Wadyajena’s committee but failed.
The Independent obtained from parliamentary sources a memorandum which Wadyajena wrote to Mudenda on November 15 this year informing him of his decision.
“I write to advise that Honourable Temba Mliswa approached my chair on Tuesday, 13th November 2018 during our closed session and informed me that he wrote a letter to the Clerk of Parliament Mr Chokuda and Honourable Speaker Mudenda intending to join the committee. He also stated that the necessary announcement was made in the House.
“Being cognisant of the past events, Mr Speaker Sir, there is strong evidence that Hon Mliswa is a highly conflicted individual in regards to substance to be addressed by the committee. I strongly recommend that he be allocated another committee as this shall enable us to fully execute our mandate in line with the standing rules and orders as read with the constitution of Zimbabwe without interference,” the memo reads.
In interviews with the Independent this week, both MPs showed no signs of ending the fight.
“The facts are simple. On two occasions, Hon Mliswa barged his way into committee sessions and outrightly lied to myself and to members that someone higher-up had added him to the committee to protect their interests. Because of his known reputation, as a matter of procedure, the committee sought clarification from the speaker. True to form, it turned out that absolutely nobody had given any such instruction and Hon Mliswa was advised to find another committee to join. It is incredulous, really. He had just invented the story, foolishly believing we would be intimidated.”
He accused Mliswa of being a member of a shadowy “third force” working to undermine government processes.
“These are the futile actions of a political novice like Hon Mliswa who has no real political weight, is predictable and easily excited. There is absolutely nothing for me or members of the committee to fear. His unending stories about how we are undermining command agriculture are not just untrue but disgraceful. I am personally very clear about his motives. There is nothing to be feared about Hon Mliswa, the amateur tactics will not be enough to sway the committee from doing its right and proper work,” he added.
But Mliswa hit back, saying he was fighting for Tagwirei’s rights just like he would fight for ordinary people’s.
“Who told you rich people should also not be represented by MPs? I fight for the people and they include Tagwirei as well. I am not a corrupt man.
“Where is the evidence that I am being paid to fight Wadyajena? There is no evidence at all. He is a highly compromised figure who should recuse himself from the chairmanship of the committee,” Mliswa said.