FORMER President Robert Mugabe might not appear before Parliament for a grilling over the missing $15 billion diamond revenue after the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda reportedly vetoed a decision to summon him, NewsDay has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
This followed the Mines and Energy Parliamentary Portfolio Committee’s decision last month to summon the 94-year-old former leader to set the record straight on the $15 billion revenue allegedly spirited out of the country under his watch, two years ago.
Mugabe in 2016 told State media during an interview to mark his birthday that Zimbabwe had lost over $15 billion in gem revenues through corrupt cartels that he did not name.
“As a committee, we resolved that Mugabe should be summoned to explain himself. We recommended to the administrators of Parliament that they wrote a letter inviting Mugabe to appear before the committee, but it now seems the letter was never written.
“We have heard that, instead, the Speaker (Mudenda) had advised against the move to summon Mugabe. Mudenda is said to have had reservations and the matter seems to have died a natural death on his desk,” a committee member who declined to be named said.
“It is likely that there is a political hand behind the decision because dragging Mugabe to appear before an open committee hearing could open a can of worms and the establishment might not be happy with that.”
Another committee member, Fani Munengami (Glen View North MP), also confirmed a resolution had been made by the committee to summon Mugabe.
“The administrators of Parliament are supposed to notify Mugabe that he has to appear before the committee. We, however, do not know what has happened,” he said.
Mliswa yesterday urged Mudenda to “do his job” without further delay.
“We are expecting Mugabe to appear because, as a committee, we made a resolution and once that happens, it is up to the administration of Parliament to set in motion the necessary communication,” he said.
“If someone is sitting on our papers, then that is something else. The Speaker must do his job. Mugabe is not going to be prosecuted. This is an inquiry and as the source of the $15 billion claim, the former President should be allowed to answer for himself.”
But Mudenda yesterday said Mliswa’s committee was yet to officially communicate with him regarding its wish to invite Mugabe for a hearing.
“The committee has not made an official communication but only made a general statement in the Press. I have to wait for the official communication,” he said.
Asked if he would have any reservations should the committee officially ask him to facilitate the former Zanu PF leader’s appearance before it, Mudenda said: “We have to look at the official communication (from the committee) and look at issue to do with protocol vis-a-vis matters to do with statecraft and his (Mugabe)’s immunity.”
Mliswa’s committee has, over the past few months, been on a ruthless “anti-corruption” crusade investigating the murky deals around the country’s energy and mining sectors in particular.
The committee has already summoned several current and former Cabinet ministers as well as top bureaucrats, including former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, who is, however, yet to avail himself amid reports he is now in exile.
The committee, in a statement last week, said it had also invited former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general Happyton Bonyongwe, who is expected to appear today to answer questions over the organisation’s shady diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa.
“The following people have been invited to appear and give evidence on the diamond sector to the aforesaid Committee on Monday May 14, 2018 at 9am in the Senate Chamber: CIO and Kusena, especially former DG Rtd Major General Bonyongwe, (police) Minerals and Border Control Unit, diamond polishing houses and (the) Zimbabwe Prospectors Association,” the media brief said.
Mugabe was forced out of power last November after a military operation triggered a series of events, including an internal process within Zanu PF that led to his removal as party leader.
He was replaced by current President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he had just sacked two weeks earlier as Vice-President.