Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
The Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee hearings into Command Agriculture and Sakunda was aborted yesterday after Zanu-PF legislators asked Mr Tendai Biti to recuse himself from chairing the committee following his party’s refusal to recognise President Mnangagwa.
The PAC was supposed to receive evidence from officials from Sakunda and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
Sakunda was represented by its chief operating officer Mr Mberikwazvo Chitambo, while the ministry’s delegation was led by outgoing Chief Director Mr Zvinechimwe Churu.
The Zanu-PF MPs took the position following the continued boycott of President Mnangagwa by MDC Alliance legislators whenever he attends Parliament.
The call for Mr Biti’s recusal was made by Chegutu West legislator Cde Dexter Nduna and was supported by other Zanu-PF legislators, prompting the adjournment of the meeting.
Cde Nduna accused Mr Biti of hypocrisy by spearheading the work of the Committee basing on reports by the Auditor General Mrs Mildred Chiri, who is an appointee of the President.
“She is the one that breathes life into PAC and is the one that makes Honourable Biti champion the move of interrogating the manner the Executive carries out its mandate using those (Audit) reports, which are quite incisive,” he said.
“So, having said that you cannot recognise someone who is appointed by the appointing authority and fail to recognise the appointing authority. So, it was my fervent view that Honourable Biti should recuse himself in terms of chairing that Committee.”
Speaking on behalf of Zanu-PF MPs, Cde Matthew Nyashanu (Buhera Central) said the PAC would only meet after the SROC completes its investigations into the MDC Alliance’s MPs conduct.
“Our position as Zanu-PF MPs is that Honourable Tendai Biti is in the presidium of the MDC Alliance and these are the guys who are instructing their MPs to boycott parliament when the President is coming to parliament and it was seen yesterday that no MDC MP attended parliament, so we have made a decision as Zanu-PF MPs in that PAC that we may not proceed until we are given a directive by CSRO,” Cde Nyashanu said.
Parliament decided to set up a Privileges Committee to investigate the conduct of MDC Alliance parliamentarians on Thursday after they boycotted the budget presentation following a motion moved by the ruling party’s chief whip, Cde Pupurai Togarepi.
Mr Biti said hearings had been postponed to November 29, but refused to answer further questions. “We have started our meeting late and we can’t conclude the interviews we want, so we have postponed this meeting to Friday the 29th of November at 9am,” he said while announcing the postponement of the meeting..
“Our questions will focus on Treasury Bills, the payments made to Sakunda and other ancillary issues.”
Last week, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Mr George Guvamatanga denied that Government had paid $3 billion to Sakunda, saying companies contracted under the programme had been paid $1 billion since Command Agriculture’s inception.