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Standoff Between Zimbabwe Parliament And Cabinet In Steel Scandal

Members of the Zimbabwe parliament's industry committee have expressed concern that President Robert Mugabe's cabinet is trying to suppress a committee report on alleged asset-looting at the state-owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.

The committee also wants to impeach Industry and Trade minister Obert Mpofu. The committee first learned from Mpofu that the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate had issued a report on corruption at ZISCO which was said to implicate ministers and other top officials. But Mpofu later backtracked on that testimony.

Parliamentary Speaker John Nkomo had given Mpofu until Tuesday to respond to the charges, but the full parliament has not taken up the issue and ruling party insiders said the cabinet has asked for time to debate the potentially explosive scandal.

Corruption at ZISCO was said to have led to the collapse of a joint venture with Indian firm Global Steel. ZISCO has been hunting for a strategic partner and the search for a foreign investor was set back Tuesday as China’s Metallurgical Corporation refuted a state media report that it had bid US$3 billion for a controlling stake in the firm.

Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that a flaw in the Zimbabwean constitution gives the executive branch the power to override parliament, so the house inquiry could be blocked.

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