Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu yesterday refused to give evidence before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy regarding diamond mining activities under his watch as Mines and Mining Development Minister.
Dr Mpofu vowed “never” to subject himself to a committee chaired by Mr Temba Mliswa whom he said had been using every platform to denigrate him. There was a heated exchange between Dr Mpofu on one hand and Mr Mliswa and some legislators on the other.
The committee had invited Dr Mpofu to respond to issues of corporate governance at Chiadzwa diamond mining fields, which saw former President Mugabe saying the country had lost about $15 billion worth of diamonds through leakages.
Trouble started when Dr Mpofu refused to withdraw his statement to the effect that he did not need to be lectured to by Mr Mliswa since he had been in Parliament since 1987. Earlier on, Dr Mpofu had said it was not proper for him to explain issues regarding a ministry that he no longer superintended.
“I do not know which precedence has been set that former ministers are subjected to operations that they experienced when they were in those ministries. I do not think I am obliged unless you convince me that I am,” said Dr Mpofu.
When Mr Mliswa explained provisions of the Standing Orders Dr Mpofu said he did not want to be lectured upon, plunging the discussion into limbo.
“This is not a zanu-pf Politburo,” quipped Mr Mliswa drawing Dr Mpofu’s ire.
Dr Mpofu said the committee had not formally invited him, but had come after he read in the media that legislators were due to meet him yesterday.
Dr Mpofu said he would “never” give evidence before a committee chaired by Mr Mliswa because he had been on a crusade to malign him on several platforms.
“I have been abused so many times by you Honourable Chair. You have said so many things, attacking me and maligning me. You have Nicodemusly come to my house 600 kilometres from Harare to discuss these issues,” he said.
Mr Mliswa shot back accusing him of lying saying the only time he came to his residence, he was still in zanu-pf.
“Yes, but as long as you are sitting there as chairperson, I will never cooperate,” said Dr Mpofu.
Dr Mpofu stuck to his guns even upon being told that he should have expressed his concerns in writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda.
‘‘You visited my house and even implicated the Speaker,” he said.
Earlier on, Mr Lovemore Kurotwi, who was a shareholder of Canadile, a firm that extracted diamonds at Chiadzwa, said they had protested against Dr Mpofu’s directive to pay Harare lawyer Mr Farai Mutamangira $600 000 because no legal service had been rendered to them.
Mr Kurotwi said he had complained to former President Robert Mugabe that he was being victimised by Dr Mpofu because he had refused to give him a $10 million bribe for approving a special grant to mine diamonds at Chiadzwa.
He, however, said he could not absolve former President Mugabe from the allegations since he did not do anything after the report.
“The way he defended Minister Mpofu, I am left with no option but to think so. I expected investigations of some form. If you report to the highest office, and nothing happens where do you go?” said Mr Kurotwi.