Zimbabwe’s Parliament has abandoned its bid to force former President Robert Mugabe to appear before a hearing on the alleged theft of $15 billion worth of diamonds during his rule.
The 94-year-old politician has ignored several invitations.
A parliamentary committee wanted Mr Mugabe, toppled in November last year after a brief military takeover, to explain his statements that the country lost billions worth of diamonds through leakages.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, Mr Temba Mliswa, said they had resolved to recuse the former president from attending.
“The former president, His Excellency Cde RG Mugabe, was unable to attend at the appointed hour and the committee was due to meet to consider summoning him as a measure of last resort but after consultations with the Honourable Speaker, he was recused from attending,” Mr Mliswa told Parliament.
The committee also failed to get evidence from former Mines minister Obert Mpofu, who accused the chairperson of pursuing a witch hunt.
Mr Mliswa said they were disappointed by the minister’s non-appearance as his evidence was crucial in establishing what happened to the diamonds from the Chiadzwa area.
“In the same vein the non-appearance by the former head of State His Excellency Cde RG Mugabe to answer questions on the missing $15 billion diamond revenues, heightens the perception that both may have been complicit on this issue,” he said.
A military operation
Mr Mugabe told the state broadcaster in an interview to mark his birthday in February 2006 that diamond revenue leakages were largely to blame for the country’s poor economic performance.
However, in March this year, a few months after he was forced to step down following a military operation that saw him being put under house arrest, Mr Mugabe said he just threw the $15 billion figure to stir debate.
After he made the claims, the government nationalised the diamond mining companies operating from Chiadzwa near the border with Mozambique.