A coalition government minister has dismissed a proposal by Robert Mugabe’s party to bring British and American business chiefs before Zimbabwe’s media to denounce their countries’ sanctions.
The president’s ZANU-PF party had demanded that the chief executives publicly criticise Western economic restrictions imposed on Zimbabwe or lose control of their businesses.
But industry minister Welshman Ncube said threats of trial by media-style “kangaroo courts” further undermined efforts to stabilise already shaky investor confidence in Zimbabwe’s embattled economy.
Mr Ncube said it was illegal under the constitution to force individuals to make public their political opinions.
Mugabe and his party elite face numerous sanctions for alleged democratic and human rights abuses in a decade of political and economic turmoil.
Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa had called for Cold War era-style confessions from executives of some 400 British and US companies operating in the southern African nation.
He told ZANU-PF supporters at weekend rallies that those executives who “fail to take a public position” would 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”, he said.
But Mr Ncube described Mr Mnangagwa’s remarks as “unfortunate” and said the coalition government would 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,” he said.