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Harare Parliament Moves Forward On Impeachment Of Trade Minister

Zimbabwean Minister of Industry and Trade Obert Mpofu could be facing a two-year prison sentence following the decision by Speaker John Nkomo to let parliament open impeachment proceedings against him for alleged false testimony to parliament.

Mpofu is accused of lying under oath before the committee on industry and trade. He was the first to alert the committee to the existence of a report that he said implicated top officials in corruption at the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, or ZISCO.

Mpofu later recanted that testimony, however, and the committee, failing to obtain a copy of the report from the government, opened its own investigation.

Nkomo said Mpofu’s conflicting statements indicated he had given false testimony.

The matter has been referred to parliament's committee on rules, whose members include Vice President Joseph Msika and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

An opposition member of the rules committee, Innocent Gonese, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the panel would in turn appoint a privileges committee which holds a mandate to open an investigation into Mpofu's conduct.

President Mugabe, who has vowed to weed out corrupt elements in his government, has not as yet made any public comments on the widening scandal.

Global anti-corruption group Transparency International has said corruption in Harare remains rampant, ranking Zimbabwe 130 out of 150 countries studied.

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