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Zimbabwe House Moves To Impeach Minister Over Steel Scandal

The Zimbabwe parliament’s committee on trade and industry, pressing its investigation of alleged top-level corruption in and around the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, has moved a motion in the house to impeach Trade Minister Obert Mpofu.

The motion was moved by ommittee chairman Enoch Porusingazi, a legislator of the ruling ZANU-PF party for the constituency of Chipinge South, Manicaland province.

But Speaker John Nkomo held the motion in abeyance, giving Mpofu time to respond to allegations that he attempted to mislead the committee about the scandal.

It was from Mpofu that the committee first learned of a report by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate said to implicate ministers, members of parliament and ZISCO managers in the looting of assets from the state-owned steelmaker. Called before the committee again, Mpofu backtracked and said unnamed officials he had implicated were not personally involved but simply had ties to firms involved in the looting.

The National Economic Conduct Inspectorate pools together officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Central Intelligence Organisation.

The investigation was prompted by the collapse of a joint venture agreement with Indian firm Global Steel to inject US$400 million into the deeply troubled parastatal over 20 years. Reports circulated that top officials had demanded kickbacks.

Unable to obtain a copy of the inspectorate's report, the committee prepared its own which concluded that the ZISCO-Global Steel deal was “fraught with irregularities.”

Parliamentarian Innocent Gonese of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change explained to reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe why the trade and industry committe has held minister Mpofu in contempt of parliament.

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