The deeds to the Embassy were reportedly handed over as ‘surety’ to ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi by his friend Robert Mugabe, back in 2002.
The transaction was said to have been personally facilitated by Mugabe, after his ZANU PF government’s failure to pay for oil supplied by the Libyan state company Tamoil. Tamoil said in 2002 that Zimbabwe had failed to meet its US$90million quarterly payment as part of a US$360 million oil deal Gaddafi had agreed to.
ZANU PF at the time dismissed the reports that the deeds to Zimbabwe House had been handed over, calling it an attempt to “discredit” the government.
Also in 2002 the UK’s Foreign Office said that it had not been informed of any change in ownership of the property. A spokesman was quoted in 2002 as saying: “It’s their property so I suppose they can do what they like with it.”
SW Radio Africa has been unable to verify if the Deeds remain in Libyan hands, but it appears that in 2002 Gaddafi was somehow placated. Not long after the reports of the Deeds-handover, a partnership between Tamoil, the Libya Arab Foreign Bank and Zimbabwe’s National Oil Company (NOCZIM) was created. This joint venture resulted in Tamoil Zimbabwe, which never operated, and NOCZIM was last year threatened over more than US$40 million in debt to the Libyans.
Gaddafi has since been ousted and the rebel led National Transitional Council (NTC) now holds the reins of power in the oil rich country. Zimbabwe (in the form of Mugabe) has refused to recognise the new administration, and last month expelled the Libyan Ambassador who declared his allegiance to the NTC. Most recently Mugabe has insisted that Gaddafi’s regime be included in discussions for Libya’s future, putting his own allegiance on display.
Uncertainly surrounds the NOCZIM debt, because Tamoil is now under international embargo as a Gaddafi-company.
Commentators have said that Mugabe is refusing to recognise the NTC over concerns about what will happen to Gaddafi’s investments in Zimbabwe. The Libyan despot is said to be a majority shareholder in the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, as well as the holder of numerous properties.
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri told SW Radio Africa that it is likely that Gaddafi still holds the Zimbabwe House deeds, explaining that his transactions for years have not been transparent. But he argued that if the
Deeds are now in the hands of the NTC, the administration will hold onto them.
“Libya will hold on to any guarantee, pending the conclusion of the political process which is unfolding. Zimbabwe owes much money to Libya because of oil and these Deeds, if the reports are true, should remain the surety for that debt,” Mashiri said. – Swradio africaPost published in: News