'We're not out to humiliate Mugabe,' says Zim committee probing alleged diamond theft

Former president Robert Mugabe, who failed to appear on Wednesday before a parliamentary committee probing alleged diamond theft, has now been invited to appear early next week, an official said. 

Temba Mliswa, who chairs parliament's committee on mines, said the 09:00 time scheduled for Mugabe's appearance on Wednesday could have been "too early" for the 94-year-old.

"As you'll appreciate, when he was in office, (Mugabe) would start cabinet at 12:00. So, we are not here to humiliate him. We expect him to have enough time to prepare so on Monday at 14:00 we expect him to be here," Mliswa told reporters at parliament.

Eagerly anticipated

The committee wants Mugabe to elaborate on claims he made two years ago that the country may have lost out on $15 billion worth of revenue from the eastern Chiadzwa diamond fields due to corruption and smuggling.

Mugabe has since told the privately-owned Independent newspaper that that figure was given to him by officials at the time but was never confirmed. 

Nevertheless, Mugabe’s appearance and testimony is being eagerly anticipated by many Zimbabweans. If he does attend Monday's meeting it’ll be his first public appearance since he was forced to step down in November.

In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, Mliswa said the committee wasn’t intending to embarrass the former head of state.

‘Not a witch hunt’

“This isn’t a witch hunt or to seek to cause embarrassment but a quest for answers. We remain respectful whilst we exhaust all options,” Mliswa said. 

The committee has been interviewing mining stakeholders over several weeks, including former and current cabinet ministers and security officials.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook