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Zim parly drops call for Mugabe to answer questions on diamond mines

Mugabe said in March 2016 the country was robbed of wealth by diamond companies including joint ventures between Chinese companies and the army, police and intelligence services.

FILE: This file photo taken on 18 April 2017 shows Zimbabwe's former president, Robert Mugabe, reviewing the guard of honour during the country's 37th Independence Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. Picture: AFP

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s parliament on Monday backed down from its demand for former president Robert Mugabe to answer questions related to diamond mining operations during his time in office.

In what would have been his first public appearance since being ousted in a de facto military coup in November, parliament had wanted to question Mugabe about his pronouncements that the state had been deprived of at least $15 billion in revenue by mining companies operating in the eastern Marange gem fields.

Mugabe had twice failed to appear before the mines committee of parliament and was given a final chance to do so on Monday, but the committee said in a statement it had now recused the 94-year-old former leader after consultations with the Speaker.

The committee did not give any more details.

A parliament official privy to the issue had told Reuters in May that it was unlikely Mugabe would appear before the committee because this was opposed by influential politicians in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party.

Mugabe said in March 2016 the country was robbed of wealth by diamond companies including joint ventures between Chinese companies and the army, police and intelligence services. He later expelled those firms last year and replaced them with a state-owned diamond company.

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