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PRESIDENT Mugabe called for the investigation of allegations of corruption, extortion, bribery and abuse of office levelled against Vice President Joice Mujuru, contrary to claims by Zanu-PF national spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo that the Politburo resolved to set up a commission of inquiry to probe factionalism in the revolutionary party.

After last week's highly-anticipated Politburo meeting, Cde Gumbo told the media that the President would set up a commission of inquiry to probe VP Mujuru and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa for fanning factionalism.

However, investigations over the past week that involved engaging 13 Politburo members, revealed that Cde Gumbo had once again passed his own contribution to deliberations as the final Politburo position.

The investigations revealed that President Mugabe did not use the words "commission of inquiry", but it was Cde Gumbo himself who did so as part of his contribution to deliberations and the contribution was not adopted.

A commission of inquiry would need to be set up in terms of the Commission of Inquiry Act Chapter 10:07 of 1996.

Section 2(1) of the Act stipulates that, "The President may, when he considers it advisable, by proclamation, appoint a commission of inquiry consisting of one or more commissioners and may authorise the commissioner or commissioners or any quorum of them specified in the proclamation to inquire into the conduct of any officer in the Public Service . . ."

Lawyers said there was no way the President, a lawyer by training, would have missed this salient point given that the allegations against Vice President Mujuru were of a criminal nature and called for the law to take its course, resulting in the Vice President being arrested if found guilty.

"While it is acknowledged that there is factionalism in the party, it is sad that Cde Gumbo cannot separate his own contributions from the position of the Politburo," said a Politburo member who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of breaching protocol that stipulates Cde Gumbo as the sole spokesperson.

While the Politburo members were at pains to divulge deliberations which are highly confidential, what they recalled was that commenting after submissions by Dr Mujuru and secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa, the President outlined the mounds of evidence against the Vice President saying other people had phoned him while others had brought dossiers of VP Mujuru's illicit dealings in diamonds, extortionate shareholding and illicit gold dealings, among other ills.

"The President said all these things being said about the Vice President must be investigated and proved wrong," said another Politburo member who added that there was a big difference between investigating to prove or disprove allegations of a criminal nature, and setting up a commission of inquiry.

"The President even referred to The Herald article which appeared on the day (VP Mujuru in $1m scandal) and said that if the allegations were true, it would be most unfortunate," she said.

A Politburo member from Masvingo recalled Cde Gumbo as saying, "Chef, I am happy that you said there should be a commission of inquiry to look into these things. We should not only look at Amai Mujuru, but also vanaMnangagwa. "Surprisingly, this is what Gumbo emerged to tell the journalists as the Politburo position, yet the President did not even utter those words, which were Gumbo's own contribution. We were surprised to read the papers the next day, takangotiwo kanha nazvo".

Of late, Cde Gumbo has come under fire for misrepresenting Politburo deliberations.

Renowned Harare lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange said there was no need for a commission of inquiry to be set up where there were criminal allegations being leveled against an individual.

He said such a commission would amount to usurping the powers of the police.

"An inquiry deals with disciplinary conduct or misdemeanor," he said. "You then set an enquiry either for a disciplinary trial or hearing. If there are criminal allegations you do not need an inquiry because you will be usurping the powers of the police.

"Where there are criminal allegations the police should move in. There is no need whether there is a complaint or not as long as there are criminal allegations against an individual law enforcement agencies must move in."

A prominent Harare legal expert who preferred anonymity said there was no way President could appoint a commission of inquiry to look into party issues.

"A commission of inquiry is appointed to deal with certain issues relating to governance of the State, not relating to party squabbles. If you are going to appoint it, it has to be through a Proclamation in the Government Gazette. What can be done by the party is to appoint a committee to investigate the issues. To use a commission of inquiry will be ridiculous because this has to be done in terms of an Act of Parliament. Maybe Cde Gumbo wanted to say committee," he said.

Political analyst Dr Charity Manyeruke said it was clear that Cde Gumbo did not understand regulations of the party in such cases.

"If the party's regulations provide for the setting up of a committee then it has to be set up," she said. "The challenge we have in Zanu-PF now is that there are so many centres of information about the goings on in the party."

Dr Manyeruke said Cde Gumbo as the party spokesperson was expected to give accurate information.

"If we have a party spokesperson who represents a certain clique or a certain group of people or his ambition then it becomes problematic. There is need to review the area of information in Zanu-PF because information is key," she said.

"When the information centre cracks, there is a problem. This is why there should be a review of the information department for people to get correct information. Congress is now around the corner, but information coming from Zanu-PF is not realible, its confusing."

The Zanu-PF Midlands and Matabeleland North provincial co-ordinating committees have since rapped Cde Gumbo for misrepresenting Politburo decisions, saying he was no longer fit to continue as party spokesman as he was discharging his duties on factional lines.

Matabeleland North Province's co-ordinating committee attacked Cde Gumbo on Saturday for abusing his position to speak on behalf of his faction at the expense of the official party position.

The Midlands Province's PCC also met over the weekend and took Cde Gumbo — who hails from the province and was in the meeting — to task for saying that allegations of corruption, subversion and abuse of office levelled against Vice President Mujuru were false and in so doing effectively undermining the commission he purported was going to be appointed to probe her.

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