24 May 2018

Zimbabwe: U.S.$15 Billion Saga - Legislators Warn Mugabe

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy has warned it could summon former president Robert Mugabe to appear before it after he failed to pitch up for a hearing yesterday to give evidence on his claim that diamonds worth US$15 billion were looted in Chiadzwa.

The committee, chaired by Norton MP Temba Mliswa, wrote to Mugabe on Thursday last week, inviting him to present evidence yesterday on the missing diamonds.

Following his failure to show up, the committee resolved that Mugabe should appear before it on Monday at 2pm.

This is after Mugabe claimed in a birthday television interview in 2016 that diamonds in Chiadzwa worth US$15 billion could not be accounted for.

He, however, revealed in an interview with this paper in March that he had plucked the figure from air.

"The Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy is conducting an exhaustive inquiry on diamond mining in Zimbabwe," the letter, which was read by Mliswa, stated.

"In this regard your excellency is kindly invited to appear before the committee on Wednesday the 23rd of May 2018 in the Senate chamber at 900hrs."

The committee told Mugabe that he may have useful information that would enable it to complete its report.

Mliswa said after caucusing as a committee they have moved the hearing to Monday.

"The committee also is cognisant of the fact the 9 o'clock was a bit too early to ask the former president to be here," Mliswa said.

"As you would also appreciate that when he was in office he would start cabinet at 12 O'clock."

Mliswa said the committee expected Mugabe to cooperate, warning that it could resort to summoning him to appear before it.

"We do not expect not to get any cooperation from him.

Parliament has the power to summon anyone.

I do not think we would want to do that," Mliswa said.

He also said that the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda will issue a ruling over the refusal by former Mines minister Obert Mpofu to give evidence to the committee in the presence of Mliswa.

The Mines and Energy committee chairperson also revealed that former police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri has made written submissions to the committee.

He added that Chihuri is ill but had promised to give evidence to the committee in person once he recuperates.

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