Zimbabwe’s parliament summons Mugabe over diamond remarks

A Zimbabwe parliament committee has summoned former President Robert Mugabe to give evidence on May 9 over diamond corruption costing billions of dollars, underlining his dramatic fall after 37 years in power.

Mugabe, now 94, ruled Zimbabwe from 1980 until he was ousted last year when the military took over briefly and his once-loyal ZANU-PF party lawmakers turned against him. He was succeeded by his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwean Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy has summoned Mugabe to explain his claim that more than 15 billion US dollars worth of diamonds had been siphoned out of the country.

December 12, 2014: Zimbabwe’s then President Robert Mugabe (C) sits with his wife Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa (L), who was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s vice president, at the State House in Harare. /VCG Photo

On the eve of his 92nd birthday in 2016, Mugabe said in a televised interview that some companies had over the years exploited the country’s diamonds with little benefit accruing to Zimbabweans.

“We have set May 9 as the date on which he will give evidence,” Temba Mliswa, chairman of the committee, told the state-owned Herald newspaper. “We met today (Thursday) as a committee and resolved that we invite the former president Mr. Mugabe to our committee to explain the disappearance of 15 billion US dollars worth of diamonds.”

It was unclear whether Mugabe, who is in frail health, was likely to agree to appear before the committee or to make moves to avoid a potential grilling.