‘Gaddafi welcome in Zimbabwe’

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara yesterday dismissed rumours that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was already in Zimbabwe, but said he was welcome in the country to ensure a smooth transition in Libya.

The DPM was speaking in the House of Assembly during the question-and-answer session while responding to a question by Silobela MP Anadi Sululu, who had asked him to clear the air over the rumours that Gaddafi might be in Zimbabwe.

Mutambara said it was a necessary evil to harbour some unwanted characters to facilitate transition.
“We have not had that chapter in Zimbabwe and if he comes to Zimbabwe, we are going to decide to reject him or accept him.

I also want to disabuse you from the notion that an individual not wanted in their own country should not be given asylum.

Sometimes they are given that asylum to allow for change in their own country,” said Mutambara.

“Whatever policy we have or we are going to have on that matter must be crafted collectively by the inclusive government and this Parliament and our process should be inclusive.

However, sometimes an individual is given asylum to promote transition in their country and sometimes a villain is also given asylum so that we allow that country to move on, and the decision can be structured at Sadc, African Union or within the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, the expulsion of Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe Taher Elmagrahi has divided the troubled coalition government with revelations yesterday by DPM Mutambara that Zanu PF had made a unilateral decision.

Elmagrahi’s ejection was sharply criticised by the MDC-T, who believe the decision was taken by Zanu PF hardliners in government without consulting other partners in the coalition, more so when the United Nations has recognised the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC).

Despite Zimbabwe’s hardline stance against the Libyan embassy staff, at least 30 countries have reportedly recognised the NTC.

The MDC-T also opposed and distanced itself from the decision.

“We are definitely opposed to this move. It’s purely a Zanu PF decision that goes without the blessings of us,” said a senior MDC-T official who requested anonymity.

Yesterday, DPM Mutambara added his voice, saying: “It is very tricky to address because the process must be inclusive since we are now in a GPA government.

It must involve the entire government, and so when we say the government of Zimbabwe has not recommended regime A, that means in its inclusive nature.

We must make sure that when we take decisions we consult across the political divide and take a position with all political parties involved.”

Mutambara said Cabinet had discussed the matter on Tuesday, and agreed that in future issues of recognition must be deliberated by government and “also we are going to be guided by Sadc, AU (African Union) and our own national interests and conscience and make a decision”.

Mutambara spoke as the Libyan top diplomat prepared to return to his war-torn country, saying the Libyan people would welcome him back home because he had represented them well.

The envoy, together with his 10-member staff, was on Tuesday given a 72-hour ultimatum to leave Zimbabwe by Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, following his decision to dump Gaddafi and join the NTC, which effectively toppled Gaddafi last week.

“I am going back straight home and I am not afraid of anyone because I did not do anything wrong,” Elmagrahi told NewsDay yesterday. But, he admitted Libya was still unsafe.

“We still have some places where there is fighting, but it will soon be over. It’s just a question of time,” he said.

Elmagrahi said he harboured no hard feelings over his expulsion, which has divided Zimbabwe’s fragile inclusive government.

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