Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
ZENGEZA West legislator and lawyer Mr Job Sikhala was yesterday barred from representing two parliamentarians facing allegations of demanding a $400 000 bribe from a local businessman after the committee set up by Parliament to investigate the matter ruled that there was conflict of interest due to his role as a Member of Parliament.
Mr Sikhala was representing Messrs Anele Ndebele (Magwegwe) and Prince Sibanda (Binga North) who are facing the allegations together with Mr Temba Mliswa (Norton) and Cde Leonard Chikomba (Gokwe-Kabuyuni)
The four were members of the Mines and Energy Committee before its dissolution and are accused of demanding the bribe from James Ross Goddard of JRG Contracting (Pvt) Ltd as a “facilitation fee” to enable him secure a contract to mine coal at Hwange.
Parliament’s Privileges Committee investigating the matter is being chaired by Chief Fortune Charumbira and ruled that Mr Sikhala was conflicted in the matter since he was part of Parliament and would take part in debate when the results of probe are brought up in the House.
Mr Sikhala said he would consider taking up the matter with the High Court, arguing his clients were being denied their right to a lawyer of their choice as enshrined in the Constitution.
“I will consult with my clients for instructions but might make an urgent chamber application because my clients are being denied their right to a lawyer of their choice,” he said.
The hearing was then adjourned to today after lawyers representing Mr Mliswa and Cde Chikomba requested documents relating to the matter.
Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara is representing Mr Mliswa and Mr Simon Musapatika is representing Cde Chikomba.
Following the alleged request for the “facilitation fee”, Mr Goddard alerted Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Vice President Kembo Mohadi.
Mr Goddard’s firm reportedly advised that it could not meet the demand and that it went against the principles that JR Goddard Contracting has been operating under since inception in 1982.
Furthermore, it was reportedly brought to the attention of the legislators that their demand was a serious challenge to President Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption efforts.