Robert Mugabe off the hook for now in diamonds graft case

Wednesday June 13 2018

Robert Mugabe

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. FILE PHOTO | JUAN BARRETO | AFP 

By AFP
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HARARE,

Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who twice failed to turn up in parliament to give evidence on corruption in the diamond mining industry, is off the hook until parliament reconstitutes after general elections in July.

A committee of lawmakers want the 94-year-old former ruler to explain his 2016 claim that Zimbabwe lost US $15 billion in revenue due to corruption and foreign exploitation in the diamond sector.

"As a committee we recommended that the former president needs to clear the air on the 15 billion dollars worth of diamond revenue that he said went missing. But parliament will not be sitting as members are busy with elections," Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, a lawmaker and member of the mines and energy committee, told AFP.

"A new committee will be set up after the elections and it will be up to the new committee to call him or not,"

The committee rescheduled its sessions twice after Mugabe, who is in frail health, failed to turn up without explanation.

Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe from 1980 until he was ousted from office in November last year following a brief military takeover.

He denounced his ouster as a coup and has not been seen in public since.

His authoritarian regime has been accused of syphoning off diamond profits.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former deputy and a veteran loyalist in the ruling ZANU-PF party, has replaced Mugabe with backing from senior military officers.

Zimbabwe discovered alluvial diamonds in Chiadzwa, the east of the country, over a decade ago.

Rights groups have accused security forces of using brutal methods to control the scattered deposits.