Independent legislator Temba Mliswa was yesterday kicked out of Parliament when he accused the Ministry of Defence of not being accountable saying an army company called Rusununguko was being used by ZANU-PF politburo members to loot.

Mliswa said the company was formed by the late Minister of Foreign Affairs Sibusiso Moyo to tackle economic problems of the army and was using state resources but was not accounting for those resources.

When Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said her ministry presented statements every month and was not aware of any reports that had not been submitted, Mliswa said, he was talking about Rusununguko in particular.

“Rusununguko is a vehicle which you ZANU-PF Politburo Members are using, Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa to get things. That is the truth. You are abusing it. It is a vehicle which Generals and you senior members are using to steal the resources of the country yet the war veterans and soldiers are suffering. We want accountability. Where is the money Rusununguko is generating going to or else give the resources of the country to the people? Give them to the ordinary soldiers so that they benefit,” Mliswa said before being ordered out of the House.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was looking after the welfare of soldiers quite well and gave a list of developments her ministry was implementing.

She said Rusununguko was a private company and as such legislators should not raise issues in Parliament which the company could not come and defend itself.

Q & A:

HON. T. MLISWA: My question is directed to the Minister of Defence and War Veterans and the National Chairman of the ruling party and member of the presidium. My question is Hon. Minister, are you aware that the Minister of Defence has not submitted accounts since 2020?  I do not know from the Public Accounts interactions, they have not submitted the accounts and as such, the Auditor General is not happy. We would like to hear from you whether that is the position that the Minister of Defence since it is the last line of defence being the army cannot be questioned for purposes of accountability and transparency? Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Thank you Mr. Speaker. Allow me to thank Hon. Mliswa for the question in which he wants us to assure the House why we have not been presenting our accounts reports. Hon. Speaker, Defence as he has indicated is key in terms of ensuring that good governance is observed and also respected, which means that  we are very clear of our obligations. Every year starting with Parliament, every month we present our statements. I am not aware of the reports that we have not submitted.      If there is the case that we missed one year and the Hon. Member is aware, the Hon. Member can assist us with that information so that we can follow up and make sure that as a Ministry our commitments are met and we will definitely take a move to correct that anomaly. I want to thank you

HON. T. MLISWA: My supplementary question to the Minister is that it will be a good culture for the Minister to approach the Auditor General’s office through the personnel which she has so that they can furnish her with more information. There is a company called Rusununguko which was a brainchild of the late S. B. Moyo which would tackle the economic problems of the military. Rusununguko has been given resources in this country so that the Ministry of Defence is not seen to be suffering but is complemented by resources coming from Rusununguko.  Rusununguko is yet to tell us that the resources given to them by Government have achieved how much. We do not know whether those resources are for certain individuals using the name Rusununguko in the army, or Rusununguko is truly an army concern. We have not seen any financial reports so that when we debate on the budget of the Ministry of Defence, the income that Rusununguko makes comes in, the Minister of Finance then takes it on and does not give the Ministry of Defence all the money. We would like to know from accountability point of view how much money is Rusununguko making and where is the money going to because in every area, they are plundering resources in the name of Rusununguko, an army company. The Chinese are partnering with Rusununguko and we would like to know the partnership with the Chinese and how much they are benefiting the army because the soldiers are complaining that there is no money yet there are resources which the army has been given to pay to the soldiers.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: That question is too specific. It requires figures, so I think you need to write it down.

HON. T. MLISWA: Rusununguko is a vehicle which you ZANU PF Politburo Members are using, Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa to get things. That is the truth. You are abusing it. It is a vehicle which Generals and you senior members are using to steal the resources of the country yet the war veterans and soldiers are suffering. We want accountability. Where is the money Rusununguko is generating going to or else give the resources of the country to the people? Give them to the ordinary soldiers so that they benefit.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Please sit down. -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-

Disorder in the House.

HON. MATHE: No, no, no, that is not a question. That is a story. You are story telling. We need a question. [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-. Do not attack the Minister but ask a question. We are not going to accept that.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, please get out of the House.

Hon. T. Mliswa was escorted out of the Chamber by the Sergeant-at-Arms

HON. T. MLISWA: Rusununguko icompany yevakuru irikubira masoja mari.

Hon. Muchinguri-Kashiri having stood up to respond.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: There is no question that arises please. That question Hon. Minister does not arise. You may proceed Hon Minister.

HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. In the absence – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of order. The question does not arise because the Hon. Member has been chucked out of the House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I consulted with the Hon. Minister and there are allegations that were raised – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. CHIKWINYA: Mr. Speaker Sir, once you have dismissed a particular Hon. Member who was on the floor for being unparliamentary, you have annulled the question. You have annulled the motion on the floor and therefore it is non-existent. You cannot give an opportunity for a rally to the Hon. Minister to address because she is not addressing anyone. By virtue of dismissing Hon. Mliswa from the House, you have annulled the debate and therefore we must move on. Whatever allegations were given, you have annulled them and you have ruled them out of order. So they are not necessary.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: The Minister has the right to address the House. Order Hon Member. I sent Hon Mliswa out of the House because of his behaviour but he had asked a question – [HON MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. CHIKWINYA: Are you saying if an Hon. Member has been dismissed out of the House and then they go on virtual, do they remain part of the proceedings? We want guidance from you.

HON. TOGAREPI: Debate is for public consumption.

HON. CHIKWINYA: Are you saying if an Hon Member misbehaves in Parliament and you rule that they must be escorted out of the House, they are allowed back into the debate through Zoom? Is that your ruling? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order please!  Hon. Members, order please!  I want to make a ruling on this matter.  I want to confirm that when I asked Hon. Mliswa to go out, he was making a lot of noise. Even if he did not go out and sat down there, the Minister was not going to respond.  So I am saying the Minister or any other Minister has a right to respond to a question that is asked – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] – It is not for you to tell me what to do.  Order, order Hon. Members.

I would want to read Standing Order Number 96 that allows the Minister to respond when a question is raised accordingly – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –  Hon. Members, the Minister has a right to respond, whether it is Question Time or not.  Hon. Minister, can you respond? – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Members, I will chase you out.  Can you leave the Minister – [HON. ZWIZWAI:  Inaudible interjection.] – Hon. Member, I will chase you out!  Go out of the House please.

Hon. Zwizwai was escorted out of the House by the Sergeant-At-Arms.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Standing Order Number 96 says, “With the prior approval of the Speaker, a Member may make a personal explanation, although there is no question before the House, but in this case no contentious matter may be brought forward, and no debate must arise.”  So, I will ask the Hon. Minister to give that personal explanation.  She has a right to do that even when there is no debate.  The Hon. Minister can proceed.

HE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to thank you for allowing me to respond to the serious accusations that have been leveled against the Minister of Defence and War Veterans in my personal capacity and also the Ministry as a whole.  The accusations, I will list just a few, the first one being that we are not looking after our soldiers, the second one is that it is only senior officials in the Defence Forces who are abusing the funds which are meant to benefit the soldiers as a whole.

I want to start by saying these accusations are baseless and unfounded.  These are very serious accusations which we are not taking lightly.  These accusations are coming at a time when we have recently celebrated the great work that our soldiers are doing in order to defend our independence and territorial integrity.  I want also to emphasise that these soldiers are a people’s force who respect the interest of our nation and also protect the people of Zimbabwe.

Last week when we had our Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day, His Excellency shared with the nation programmes which are lined up in order to address the interest of our soldiers.  I will start Mr. Speaker, with the military salary concept which had been abandoned during the First Republic, only to be resuscitated during this Second Republic.  Hon. Speaker, I want to emphasise also that our Excellency– [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-

HON. PHULU:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  What is your point of order?

HON. PHULU:  In terms of Standing Rule 96 Mr. Speaker Sir, a personal explanation may be given and I believe a personal explanation is being given but however in giving the personal explanation, no contentious matter may be brought forward and the issues of the First Republic are contentious matters.  So that is my point of order Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-

HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI:  Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, I disqualified your point of order.  It is contentious to you but not to the House.  Can you sit down please!

HON. PHULU:  Rule 96 says a contentious matter may not be raised.  Mr. Speaker, if you are ruling to say the matter is not contentious, so be it but you dismissed me rudely.  Just rule that it is not contentious.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  It is not contentious to the House please.

HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI:  Mr. Speaker, let me add also that over and above the military salary concept which was suspended, as I indicated, it has also been resuscitated.  So we are very happy that it was not just the salaries but the allowances were also increased and this is across the board.  In fact, we made sure that there were differentiations between the salaries.  We gave much more to the lowest junior soldiers – [AN HON. MEMBER:  How much?]-  I cannot divulge the information– [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-  I also have a right.  Yes, I want to go further and indicate officers’ accommodation which we inherited from the colonial era which we had not rehabilitated, the Second Republic was able to set aside resources to repair most of our accommodation.

Hon. Speaker, as I speak, we have started constructing houses  for our soldiers, we have started constructing 100 flats at Dzivaresekwa where we are expecting 5000 apartments by December.  I want to report that we have completed the rehabilitation of William Ndangana Barracks.  We have also rehabilitated accommodation of our soldiers in Mutare at Gimboki.  We have started constructing apartments at Mbizo Barracks and also maintaining the barracks in Plumtree. We are  addressing the health needs of our soldiers and I want to report that for the first time in the history of our Republic, we have managed to complete a 149 bed hospital at Manyame Base – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – which we have every reason to celebrate and that facility will be  state of the art.   It will also accommodate all Members of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker Sir, let me state that Rusununguko is a private company which is in partnership with the Chinese and does not benefit from any budget from Parliament. It operates like any other private company.  We have so many companies where ARDA has gone into partnership with the private sector and to single out Defence where every effort is being made by His Excellency to address the social welfare issues of our soldiers is to say the least very, very unfair.  We need to celebrate the efforts that come from this Parliament.  If anything, what we would expect would be an increase in terms of our budget when it is finally presented.

This is the only way, if we care about our soldiers; this is the only way that we can improve to where we are today.  I cannot say that we have addressed the challenges 100% but we need to congratulate ourselves for the effort that we are making as Government.  Mostly, I want to say that it is speculation, misleading the nation where people do not have facts is an offence, a serious offence.  We should not abuse Parliament by raising issues where Rusununguko cannot come and defend themselves – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

It was very important that we set this record straight to make sure that where people come into Parliament, it is very unparliamentary where people speak without proper facts. So I dismiss the accusations, I say that the Second Republic is doing all things possible to address the challenge facing our defence staff – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. CHIKWINYA: On a point of privilege Hon. Speaker.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

HON. CHIKWINYA: My point of order is that the Minister has said what Hon. T. Mliswa said is tantamount to an offence and that removes the right of a Member of Parliament to be protected by the Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act to the point that members no longer feel free to engage with the Minister of Defence simply because whatever we point out to her, she takes this as an offence.  I beg that she withdraws that statement.  We need to be protected as Members of Parliament – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

She cannot say that what Members of Parliament speak in Parliament is   tantamount to an offence; she has to withdraw that – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Chikwinya, the Minister was not responding to the issue by Hon. T. Mliswa, she was giving a personal explanation.  So there is no point of privilege – [HON. MEMBERS: Hon. T. Mliswa is a Member of Parliament.] – Order Hon. Members she was not talking about Hon. T. Mliswa, please sit down Hon. Members.