Southern African countries zero in on Gaddafi assets

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Following South Africa’s decision to freeze all Gaddafi’s assets in accordance with UN Security Council resolution Zambia has sought clarification on whether the resolution would have any effect on massive investments undertaken by the embattled Libyan leader’s regime in the southern African country. Zimbabwe has remained silent.

The UN Security council has passed a resolution to freeze assets which are owned by individuals in the government of Libya following the uprising in the North African country.

Zambia is worried about investments made by Libyan government-run Lap Green which is said to hold 75 percent in Zamtel, the country’s main telecommunication firm.

Media reports claim that Zambia’s Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane reported to parliament that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already been in touch with the UN on the way forward.

Musokotwane, reportedly, indicated that while they await UN response Zambia will stop paying dividends from the national telecom Zamtel to Lap Green.

LAP Green, part of the Libyan government’s foreign investment operation, took over the state-run Zamtel in 2010 in a deal worth $257-million.

“It is important to note that the freezing of assets as it pertains to Zamtel relates to the shareholders LAP Green and its holding of shares in Zamtel,” Musokotwane is quoted saying.

Zamtel operates fixed phone lines countrywide.

South Africa decides

However, South African government has issued a directive to its Treasury department to freeze all Gaddafi’s assets in accordance with an earlier UN Security Council resolution.

Local daily Business Day said the money is invested through the $5 billion Libya Arab Africa Investment Co (Laaico), through Libya Oil Holdings, Libya African Investment Portfolio and Libyan Foreign Investment Company (Lafico).

While governments worldwide have extended a blanket freeze on Gaddafi and Libya’s assets, Harare has been quiet on developments unfolding in the North African nation let alone an asset freeze.

Zimbabwe silent

One of Gaddafi’s sons, Saadi, was in Zimbabwe in August 2010 to seek business opportunities and made sizeable investment proposals from mining, agriculture and tourism.

Gaddafi and President Robert Mugabe are largely seen as close allies.

Observers have however argued that the Arab strongman’s investments in Zimbabwe are paltry and it could be the reason why there is silence.

According to export figures from Zimtrade, the national investment body, Zimbabwe exported only US$390 000 worth of goods to Libya from 2005 and 2009.

It says a Libyan Foreign Bank owns 96.6 million shares which is, around 14.12% of Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Holdings Ltd’s total issued share capital.

Libya also owned around 14% of Rainbow Tourism Group’s total issued share capital but disposed off the holding sometime back.

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