Harare – Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was scheduled to appear before parliament on Wednesday to provide information about the diamond mining industry, after the country reportedly lost more than $15bn through nefarious activities.
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.
Mugabe himself has since told local newspaper The Independent that the amount of $15bn “was just a figure” which was never confirmed.
Parliament is however going ahead with the probe, and has since released a parliamentary notice to say the former strongmen would be questioned on the missing billions.
The mines committee led by independent legislator Temba Mliswa said it might conduct the hearing at Mugabe’s Harare mansion, commonly known as the Blue Roof.
Mliswa said the probe will not be a witch hunt or an effort to embarrass anyone, but an effort to obtain evidence from the former president.
* Sign up to Fin24‘s top news in your inbox: