Mnangagwa threatens foreign firms over sanctions

THE man tauted as Robert Mugabe's successor, Defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned chief executives of foreign firms that they may be forced to publicly to denounce Western sanctions or face losing 90 per cent of their company shareholding.\r\n

Addressing Zanu PF supporters in Mutare over the weekend, Mnangagwa – who is seen as a possible successor for President Robert Mugabe – said bosses of foreign firms operating in Zimbabwe would have to publicly state their positions regarding the sanctions.

"We will ask them if they support sanctions or not," Mnangagwa said.

"Those who indicate that they do not support sanctions will be asked to go live on national radio and tell the nation and the rest of the world their company does not support sanctions."

Mnangagwa said companies that fail to take a public position against the sanctions would lose 90 percent of their shareholding.

The money realised from the 90 percent share takeovers would go into a new "anti-sanctions fund".

The fund will be used to finance an aggressive campaign against the restrictive measures and "all foreign companies operating in the country (will be) compelled to assist," he said.

However economic planning and investment promotion minister, Tapiwa Mashakada – a senior member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party – said Mnangagwa’s rhetoric was unhelpful.

"They (Zanu-PF ministers) are always pronouncing ultra-nationalist rhetoric and pseudo-socialist lines.

"Moreover, their rhetoric is based on hate speech … which is not government policy. We have to work harder to improve our country’s image,” he said.

Official figures put the number of white- and foreign-owned companies still operating in the country at around 500.

Mnangagwa’s remarks come after President Mugabe warned that companies from the European companies with operations in the country may be taken over unless sanctions were removed.

“We have been too far too good for malicious people for countries which seek to destroy us,” Mugabe told a Zanu PF conference last month. “Why should we continue to have 400 British companies here operating freely with Britain benefiting from us?

Zanu PF sees the sanctions as punishment for its controversial land reforms.

The party claims that the sanctions are economic problems experienced over the last decade and continue to hold back recovery. 

Western countries counter that the sanctions only target senior government and Zanu PF individuals accused of rights abuses as well as those undermining democracy and the rule of law.