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Zimbabwe Trade Minister Snubs Parliament In 'Steelgate' Corruption Probe

Trade Minister Obert Mpofu failed to appear at a parliamentary committee hearing Wednesday looking into the alleged looting of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, or ZISCO, leading legislators to say they will now pursue their own investigation and draft an independent report on what is now being called the “Steelgate” scandal.

Committee members have not been able to obtain a report on ZISCO abuses drafted by the Economic Conduct Inspectorate, an agency staffed by officials from the Central Intelligence Organization and the Finance Ministry. Trade Minister Mpofu disclosed some of the contents of the report to parliament last month, saying it implicated ZISCO managers, ministers and members of parliament in corruption and asset-stripping.

But Mpofu backtracked in his next appearance before the committee, saying that the abuses were committed not by officials but by companies connected to them. He was supposed to provide clarification on Wednesday, but he requested an indefinite postponement, telling the committee he was too busy to appear.

The committee said it is now compiling the results of its own investigation in a report to be presented to the full parliament. ZANU-PF committee members said their efforts to obtain a copy of the Inspectorate report were fruitless despite assurances by Mpofu and Deputy Finance Minister David Chapfika that it would be forthcoming.

Security Minister Didymus Mutasa – to whom the Inspectorate reports – said no such report exists. Anti-Corruption Minister Paul Mangwana declined to comment, saying that the matter concerned national security.

For perspective on the ZISCO imbroglio, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Transparency International Zimbabwe Chairman Goodwill Shana who said there is simply no political will to tackle high-level corruption.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...