ZIMBABWE’S former president Robert Mugabe has retracted his remarks over the alleged missing $15 billion diamond revenue amid investigations by the national assembly, according to a report.
In a claim that's coming back to haunt him, the former Zimbabwe strongman said in 2016 that $15 billion worth of diamonds were spirited out of Marange, the dusty fields more than four hours’ drive from Harare.
Mugabe, according to AFP, was now set to be summoned to testify before a parliamentary committee that was investigating the looting.
The lawmakers planned to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15bn in income from diamonds due to corruption and foreign exploitation, said the report.
Mugabe - whose own regime was accused of siphoning off the diamond profits - was ousted last November after a military takeover that ushered his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to power.
But, in a dramatic twist last week, the veteran politician told the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent that the "whole $15bn loot was an urban legend that had no factual basis".
He said the claim was just a figure that was given to him by some government official at the time.
"It was just a figure. I was given that by some officials, that figure had been circulating around, but really it was not confirmed; it was just a story and there was that figure involved," Mugabe was quoted as saying.
This came after several senior government officials were also summoned to give evidence before the committee.
The privately owned NewsDay newspaper reported that the mines and energy portfolio committee which was chaired by independent lawmaker, Temba Mliswa, had summoned Vice President Kembo Mohadi – a state security minister at the time - finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and former police boss Augustine Chihuri to give evidence before it.
Other senior officials who were summoned to appear before the commission were the current Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, home affairs ministry secretary, Melusi Matshiya, and his defence counterpart, Martin Rushwaya.