Zimbabwe: Protesters threaten foreign owned businesses

Hundreds of supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party demonstrated against foreign owned businesses in central Harare on Monday and began looting small shops on the western edge of the city. The looters said they would take over all foreign owned businesses in Zimbabwe.

Police estimated that there were about 700 people demonstrating in central Harare and said they arrested three of them.

The mob began their demonstration near the offices of the ZANU-PF party’s provincial headquarters on the eastern edge of the city center.

The demonstrators began moving through the city’s streets shouting that they supported indigenisation and that all foreign-owned companies should be taken over by Zimbabweans.

They carried banners which read “No to foreigners controlling our economy” and “Foreigners, sanctions have destroyed our economy so we want to control our wealth.”

While the demonstrators did not enter any of the large shops along the roads. They forced their way into small Nigerian-owned shops on the western edge of the city.

ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the demonstration was being investigated by the party.

ZANU-PF took a resolution at its annual conference last December, that indigenisation of businesses would be a central plank of its next election campaign.

While Mugabe says he wants elections later this year. Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change, and prime minister in the inclusive government says he does not want elections until a new constitution is in place.

Elections would bring the inclusive government, two years old this week, to an end.

This past weekend, ZANU-PF supporters seized many small market stalls on Harare municipal land in the Mbare township, which had been leased to MDC supporters and members of the public.

Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said these ZANU-PF demonstrations in Harare are an attempt by the party to take control of the capital which it lost when the MDC fought its first national elections in 2000. – VOA