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Foreigners spared Zim kangaroo courts

Jan 19 2011 18:23 Sapa-AP

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Harare - Zimbabwe will not heed a proposal by the president's party to bring American and British business executives before state media to denounce their countries' sanctions, a minister said on Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe's party has demanded that the chief executives publicly criticise Western economic restrictions imposed on Zimbabwe or forfeit control of their businesses.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said on Wednesday that threats of trial by media-style "kangaroo courts" further undermined efforts to stabilise already shaky investor confidence in the embattled economy.

It is illegal under the constitution to force individuals to make public their political opinions, Ncube said.

Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party elite face numerous sanctions for alleged democratic and human rights violations in a decade of political and economic turmoil.

Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has called for Cold War era-style confessions from executives of some 400 British and US companies operating in Zimbabwe.

He told Mugabe party supporters at weekend rallies that those executives who "fail to take a public position" will be punished anyway, and lose up to 90% of their shareholdings.

Money from seized shareholdings would be used to set up a new "anti-sanctions fund" to campaign aggressively against the measures and "all foreign companies operating in the country will be compelled to assist," Mnangagwa said.

The sanctions, targeted against Mugabe, his loyalists and businesses owned by the party, include visa and travel bans and a freeze on foreign banking and any other business operations by them.

Mugabe insists economic restrictions have had a broader impact and have disrupted the economy. Mugabe's critics blame Zimbabwe's economic meltdown on mismanagement that began with the often violent seizures of thousands of white owned farms in 2000 by Zanu-PF.

An estimated 2 million Zimbabweans need food aid in coming weeks, according to the United Nations.

Ncube described Mnangagwa's remarks as "unfortunate" and said the coalition as a whole will not allow foreign businessmen to be persecuted.

"If it was Zanu-PF alone in government then it will have happened, but it is an inclusive government and we will not agree," Ncube said.

welshman ncube  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe
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