Kasukuwere chickens out

HARARE - Environment minister, Savior Kasukuwere yesterday failed to turn up in Parliament to explain issues surrounding the cloudy community share ownership trusts (CSOTs) in Manicaland.

This comes as the Mount Darwin South legislator has been fingered in an ugly row or quarrel with Youth, Empowerment and Indigenisation portfolio committee chair Justice Wadyajena — in an incident that has since been reported to speaker Jacob Mudenda.

The Wadyajena committee was kept waiting for more than an hour yesterday before an announcement was made that Kasukuwere would not be coming.

“The minister who was supposed to appear before this committee did not turn up,” Wadyajena told reporters. “Any further questions ask the Speaker of the National Assembly, so you are excused.”

Jacob Mudenda , the Speaker of the House of Assembly, said he had not yet been briefed on Kasukuwere’s no-show and could not comment if the Environment minister  was in contempt of Parliament.

Mudenda, however, told the Daily News that he was seized with the reported altercation between Wadyajena and Kasukuwere in which the Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator claims he was verbally assaulted and threatened.

“It  is an internal matter that is still under our attention but I have not been informed that the honourable minister did not turn up for the committee hearing, I am just coming out of a meeting,” Mudenda said.

As part of its oversight mandate, Wadyajena’s committee wanted Kasukuwere to appraise it on commitments made by the mining companies in Chiadzwa to fund as well as providing “any documentation and agreements regarding pledges made to the Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust”.

Further, the Gokwe-Nembudziya Member of Parliament’s committee wanted clarity on the “inconsistencies in the lesser share certificates issued” and for Kasukuwere to “bring all correspondence to the mining companies” regarding CSOTs.

Contacted for comment, Kasukuwere said he was in a meeting but when the Daily News tried to call him again, his mobile was answered by a female assistant who said the minister was still locked up in meetings.

Last month Mbada, Anjin, Diamond Mining Corporation, Jinan and Marange Resources denied penning agreements obligating them to pay $50 million to the Zimunya-Marange share ownership trusts, and that the vaunted deals were nothing more than “gentlemen’s agreements”.

But as the saga plays out, Kasukuwere has come out guns blazing to a point that he has produced letters, which he says were written to and by the same miners.

However, new Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema appears to have drilled holes into his predecessor’s story by telling Parliament that: “I have even asked officials whether the letters are there. The problem is that there is no reference, no date stamp to authenticate the letters. I have checked with many files, I don’t know if they are there.

“I can’t say that there are not authentic but I have not seen any of the said letters. I tried to ask the (ministry) officials but no one knows about them,” the minister said.

While President Robert Mugabe was made to “hawk around dummy cheques” for the money paid by the Marange gem miners, analysts say the probity and efficacy of the CSOT plan, and its socio-economic agenda was always in doubt.

As Kasukuwere and his coterie of die-hard supporters have come out to say the “deals” were bonafide, the empowerment committee’s work has inadvertently exposed the dubious or shoddy nature of the Zanu PF politburo member’s agreements with the various gem players.

In a letter to Parliament, Wadyajena said he was threatened by Kasukuwere in front of assembly colleagues for merely seeking to understand Zimbabwe’s economic empowerment programme, in line with his oversight role.

Specifically, Kasukuwere was irked by Wadyajena’s interrogation of the youth development fund — once administered by the top Zanu PF man and some banks — as well as circumstances around the controversial funding of CSOTs in Chiadzwa.

As things stand, it is also alleged that the funds were abused by top party bigwigs, including politburo and Cabinet members, falling way out of the youth clusters.

Comments (1)

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Donect1950 - 17 May 2014

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