Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has left for Libya, where he is attending festivities marking the 32nd anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the Libyan monarchy, state television reported Friday, August 31.
Mugabe left for Libya from Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, where he opened a new mint ahead of the city's mayoral race on September 8-9. While opening the mint, Mugabe vowed to press ahead with his controversial land reforms and to investigate companies that close "for no apparent reason," the report said.
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi is one of Mugabe's dwindling number of friends internationally. Kadhafi paid an official visit to Zimbabwe last month, after the summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) — set to become the African Union (AU) — in neighboring Zambia.
Zimbabwe is also in a $360 million fuel deal with Libya, aimed at alleviating chronic fuel shortages, which have crippled Zimbabwe. The two nations were also to ink a beef deal, in which Zimbabwe would export beef to Libya, but that agreement has been put on hold following an outbreak of the foot-and-mouth cattle disease.
Kadhafi is one of the only foreign leaders who continues to back Mugabe's controversial land reforms, which have been closely tied to that political violence that has raged across Zimbabwe for 19 months. Western donors have cut off funding to Zimbabwe, and regional leaders in southern Africa agreed earlier this month to create a task force to help Zimbabwe out of its political and economic crisis.
The political crisis sparked by Mugabe's crackdown on dissent — including the opposition, journalists and the judiciary — has complicated efforts to end a two-year depression that has seen more than 700 businesses close in what was one of Africa's most vibrant economies. —(AFP, Harare)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )