Zimbabwe sets new date for Mugabe hearing, doubts over his appearance

FILE PHOTO: Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addressed a meeting of his party's youth league in Harare, Zimbabwe, October 7, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s parliament said on Monday that former President Robert Mugabe was scheduled to answer questions this week related to diamond mining operations during his tenure, but an official said senior ruling party politicians opposed this.

Mugabe was originally scheduled to appear before the mines committee on May 9, which would have been his first public appearance since he was ousted in November, but the invitation letter had never been sent.

Parliament wants the 94-year-old to give evidence over his 2016 declarations that the state had been deprived by mining companies of at least $15 billion in diamond revenue.

A parliament notice said Mugabe would answer questions on Wednesday, subject to confirmation. It did not elaborate.

Temba Mliswa, the mines committee chairman said parliament had written the letter and Mugabe had received it. He had not, however, confirmed his attendance.

Mliswa said there were also suggestions that Mugabe could perhaps give evidence at his house or in camera, away from the public eye, but this had not been finalised.

But a parliament official privy to the issue said it was unlikely Mugabe would appear before the committee because this was opposed by some influential ruling ZANU-PF politicians.

“They are saying they do not want their old man to be embarrassed especially by the opposition members of parliament. It will not happen,” said the official, declining to be named because he is not allowed to speak to the press.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Richard Balmforth