29 May 2018

Zimbabwe: Parly Gives Mugabe Ultimatum

Parliament yesterday issued an ultimatum to former president, Mr Robert Mugabe, to appear before the Mines and Energy portfolio committee to give oral evidence on diamond leakage at Chiadzwa, which the ex-president claimed amounted to $15 billion.

Mr Mugabe risks facing contempt of court charges if he snubs the committee again.

He has not availed himself before the committee chaired by Norton legislator Mr Temba Mliswa before, despite formal invites.

Yesterday, Mr Mugabe was a no show again, drawing the ire of the committee which rescheduled the meeting to June 11.

Addressing journalists yesterday, Mr Mliswa said in their final letter the committee warned Mr Mugabe of the legal consequences of his continued failure to attend Parliament hearings.

"We were expecting former president Mugabe to appear before us as a result of a letter written to him requesting his person to be here at 2pm today. He has not attended today's session as a result the committee has resolved to write to him for the last time because Parliament writes to you thrice and thereafter summons you," said Mr Mliswa.

"It is something that we regret to do and we hope we will not do as the former President of the Republic of Zimbabwe needs to be protected and as a result he can only be protected if he follows the laws of the country. He is not being persecuted. It is only a matter of us hearing from him whatever he has to say. We still have the utmost respect for him, that is the reason why the committee has exercised this patience, but ultimately there are laws and rules which Parliament must follow which protects citizens of this country and we hope and pray that we will not get to the stage of summoning the former President."

Mr Mliswa warned that Mr Mugabe risked soiling his legacy if Parliament was to invoke the law over his truant behaviour.

"As you know we had equally suggested in respect of the work he did for this country to go and appear at his homestead, but you must understand it is his choice to allow us to appear there or even to appear in camera and those options were open to him and he has not responded to any of them," said Mr Mliswa.

"When Parliament invites you, we expect you to attend unless otherwise you write back to state the reasons why you cannot attend. Parliament has done everything necessary to ensure that the due process is followed, to ensure that the former President attends by sending the letters through the right channel which is expected of Parliament."

Regarding Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, Mr Mliswa said National Assembly Speaker, Advocate Jacob Mudenda would soon make a determination on the reservations by former Mines and Mining Development Minister to have him chair a hearing on diamond leakages enquiry.

"We made a report to the Speaker according to the rules and we hope a determination will be made. No one is above the law. So nothing has been swept under the carpet. No one is above Parliament. The committee has done its part from a procedural point of view so that the Speaker can make a determination," he said.

Mr Mugabe has been keeping Parliament guessing after he failed to confirm whether he would attend the hearing upon being served with letters inviting him to attend to clarify claims he made in 2016 that Zimbabwe had lost $15 billion through diamond leakages.

Mr Mugabe resigned in November 2017, after Parliament instituted impeachment proceedings against him.

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