Harare: 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
President Robert Mugabe made special mention on
yesterday of British-controlled banks and businesses, saying
British interests controlled 400 businesses in the former
"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
yesterday at open field on the edge of the city center. 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.
Mugabe insists Western sanctions have destroyed
Zimbabwe`s economy. Critics and economists, though, blame his
violent land distribution program 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.