Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday threatened to boycott Western products before seizing companies from countries that have imposed sanctions against him and his allies.
“We can’t keep hosting more than 400 British firms including mines. Now it’s time we took measures,” Mugabe told a rally launch of a petition to call for the lifting of sanctions by the United States and the European Union.
“The indigenisation and empowerment drive should start with those companies. We must take over. We must not be ashamed. Now it’s time we took measures.
“Before we take over, we may boycott their products.”
The rally on the outskirts of the capital was attended by more than 10 000 people but Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and government officials from his party, who co-govern the country in a fragile pact, did not attend the event.
First to sign
Mugabe was the first to sign the petition, which was also inked by security chiefs, war veterans and government officials.
“Conscious of the illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed by the West on my country, I therefore, do hereby append my signature to register my protest at the said illegal sanctions and to demand an immediate end to this form of aggression against my country and my people,” read the petition.
Some youth blew vuvuzelas while others perched on trees carrying banners and posters or wearing T-shirts denouncing the sanctions.
One poster titled “hit list” named BHP, Old Mutual, Rio (Tinto), Standard Bank and Barclays Bank as some of the targeted companies.
Another poster read “Recolonisation through sanctions. Zimbabwe says No to illegal sanctions. Sanctions do kill.”
Police patrolled the streets ahead of the rally while some buses ferried people from far-off districts.
The US and the EU sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and members of his inner circle. Last month the EU removed 35 people from the list. — AFP