LIBYAN investors are coming to Zimbabwe at the end of the month to re-open stalled negotiations on the acquisition of assets here, including the strategic Mutare to Harare
fuel pipeline, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Government sources this weeksaid officials from oil conglomerate Tamoil together with other Libyan investors were edgy after President Mugabe’s Independence Day interview when he hinted at his retirement.
“They would like to secure assets as soon as possible to protect themselves against any eventuality,” a source said.
Apart from interest in the petro-chemical industry the Libyans have expressed interest in agro-processing, the hospitality industry and banking. But the prize assets with strategic importance to the North Africans are the pipeline and holding tanks in Mabvuku. The Libyans would like to take control of the assets to further their influence in the local fuel industry through a joint venture company with Noczim called Tamoil-Zimbabwe.
Negotiations between the Libyans and government over the fuel handling facili ties stalled in December after the two parties failed to agree on the value of the assets. Government negotiators called for a proper audit of the assets before any deals could be signed.
This resulted in Tamoil cancelling credit facilities thereby cutting off supplies to Zimbabwe. Since the beginning of the year, Zimbabwe has been importing fuel from Kuwait in an over-the-counter arrangement.
Government sources this week said the Libyans would this time around have their Zimbabwean counterparts at a disadvantage. Supplies have over the past two weeks reduced to a trickle with Harare totally dry last weekend as Noczim failed to raise foreign currency.
“The Libyans can dangle goodies in the face of government – like a line of credit – and the pipeline is gone,” an industry source said.
The source said this could guarantee supplies in the short term butthere was the clear and present da-nger of the Libyans building an empire and killing off competition.
“If they take over the pipeline, it’s very likely that the pipeline will only be used to transport Libyan fuel.”