Zimbabwe: Purpose of Gaddafi visit unclear

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Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Lieutenant-Colonel Engineer Saadi Muammar al-Gaddafi and his entourage were on Thursday detained at Harare International Airport for two hours by immigration officials after jetting into the country without passports.

Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi who was present at the airport waiting to welcome the 18 member delegation quickly phoned Home Affairs Ministry who then ordered the release of the delegation after almost two hours of detention.

The Gaddafi’s son led delegation, which jetted through South Africa told immigration officials that they had left their passports in South Africa for safe keeping.

“We knew that Gaddafi”s son was coming to Zimbabwe, but he surprised us when the delegation said they left their passports in South Africa for safe keeping” said an immigration official.

Despite Walter Mzembi’s intervention to let the Libyan leader’s son in, Tourism ministry officials said the purpose of the visit was not clear. But the delegation is believed to be on a five day visit to “explore business opportunities”.

Zimbabwe last week sold 900 000 carats of a six million stockpile after a protracted battle to get certification from diamond regulator, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says of the US$45 million realised from the sale, government pocketed US$15 million.

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