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Zim parly talks tough after second Mugabe no-show amid missing diamond billions

May 29 2018 21:21
Crecey Kuyedzwa

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Harare - Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on Monday snubbed parliament when he failed to appear before a committee where he was supposed to give evidence about billions of dollars not accounted for in the diamond sector. 

This is the second time Mugabe has snubbed the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy. He failed to appear last week on Friday, when he was initially expected to present himself before parliament.

Portfolio committee chairperson Themba Mliswa said following Mugabe’s failure to appear, parliament will proceed to write the former strongman a final letter. If he then fails to appear, he will be charged with contempt of parliament. 

Mliswa told local radio station CapitalkFM that “We have resolved to write him the final letter, in which we shall state the powers parliament has”.

He said if Mugabe fails to appear for the third time, parliament will proceed to issue him with a summons which will be handed to him by a police officer.

“We respect his legacy but parliament is an institution which no one is above, and as a result it was only his contribution which we are looking for and we are not prosecuting him for the $15bn which went missing when he was in power, something he alluded to himself." 

Zimbabwe experienced a diamond mineral rush in September 2006, with the country touted to become one of the world’s biggest diamond-producing countries.

Government, which was experiencing sanctions at the time, was also expected to boost its coffers. However, this was not to be as treasury received very little from the diamond operations.

This led to Mugabe’s public claim that the country had lost $15bn through illegal dealings.

“We have not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we have exceeded $2bn, yet we think more than $15bn has been earned,” Mugabe said in 2016.

Government however did not do much to probe the missing billions and bring those involved to book.

Of late, parliament has been investigating people and companies involved in diamond mining as it seeks to establish whether $15bn had in fact been siphoned from government funds.

High-ranking officials in the Mugabe government, including ministers, have since been brought before parliament to provide evidence on whether the country really lost the billions.

However, nothing much has emerged to give an indication of how much exactly was lost, except for revelations that the industry’s activities were conducted in secrecy and contributed little to treasury.

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robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  africa economy  |  diamonds
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