Mugabe to seize foreign firms

2011-03-03 07:00

Zimbabwe’s defiant president has threatened to seize foreign businesses in retaliation for Western economic sanctions targeting him and his supporters over alleged human rights abuses in the southern African nation.

President Robert Mugabe made special mention yesterday of British-controlled banks and businesses, saying British interests controlled 400 businesses in the former British colony.

“It is time now to take action and to start looking at these companies we must take over,” Mugabe told a rally at the start of a campaign to gather two million signatures for a national petition to take over the businesses.

He accused Barclays and the Standard Chartered banks of taking money out of Zimbabwe’s economy and using it to support a British banking freeze against Zimbabwean leaders.

He said British firms and other European and American interests also took out profits on mining and other ventures.
“We say no to that,” Mugabe said.

He also demanded executives of foreign-owned companies denounce the sanctions placed by their governments.

Trucks and buses carrying Mugabe supporters arrived earlier at open field on the edge of the city centre.

The supporters sang slogans and raised Mugabe’s trademark clenched-fist salute.

The former opposition party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in a shaky coalition with Mugabe, boycotted the gathering.

In a statement, Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change said the measures against Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party resulted from its record of violence, intimidation and vote-rigging.

The statement said Tsvangirai distanced himself from the “unpopular and bloodthirsty” party.

Mugabe insists Western sanctions have destroyed Zimbabwe’s economy. Critics and economists, though, blame his violent land distribution programme for crippling the country’s agriculture industry since 2000.

The sanctions include visa bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and his party leaders.

Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama extended for one year the Bush-era sanctions against individuals closely linked to Mugabe. The sanctions had been scheduled to end March 6.

“While some advances have been made in Zimbabwe, particularly on economic stabilisation, since the signing of the power-sharing agreement, the absence of progress on the most fundamental reforms needed to ensure rule of law and democratic governance leaves Zimbabweans vulnerable to ongoing repression and presents a continuing threat to peace and security in the region and the foreign policy of the United States,” Obama said in a statement to the US. Congress.


“Politically motivated violence and intimidation, and the undermining of the power-sharing agreement by elements of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party, continue to be of grave concern,” Obama wrote.

Businesses closed their doors across Harare as some 20 000 Mugabe supporters converged on the rally.

Many supporters were seen leaving the gathering during Mugabe’s rambling 80-minute speech touching on white domination in the nation’s colonial-era history and Western opposition to his rule.

“Sanctions were put there to give you pain, and if you feel the pain you will rise against Mugabe,” Mugabe said, speaking mainly in the local Shona language.

Witnesses said Mugabe’s militants went house-to-house in township suburbs and patrolled bus stops early yesterday demanding support for the petition.

There were no immediate reports of violence.

Mugabe has called for elections this year to bring an end to a shaky two-year coalition with Tsvangirai.

His party claimed in notices announcing the rally that sanctions were responsible for the collapse of health services and other utilities, and that they affected the care of children and the elderly and were aimed at defending “minority rights” of white farmers and other groups.

“Sanctions do kill. Fight them,” the notices said, adding: “Sanctions are a racist attack on an African people. Sanctions are a gross human rights violation.

Sanctions are an attack on all Zimbabweans, they are wholesale, they are not personalised or targeted.”

Britain, the European Union and the United States have listed some 200 individuals and 30 businesses linked to Mugabe’s party as targets of the Western bans.

The rally follows a clampdown on dissent and a spike in political violence and intimidation since Mugabe called for elections this year.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.