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3228non-Malawi news

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jul 1, 2002
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      Mugabe warns of
      business take-overs

      The Zimbabwe Government will seize the
      assets of firms, which do not co-operate with
      the government, President Mugabe has
      warned.

      He accused National Foods, which is partly
      owned by a subsidiary of the Anglo-American
      multinational company, of causing a recent
      shortage of salt by hoarding its supplies.

      This was a political ploy
      to turn "people on the
      streets against our
      government", he said
      according to the
      state-owned Sunday
      Mail newspaper.

      The price of salt is
      controlled by the government but National
      Foods says it cannot afford to sell at this
      price, because it is lower than the cost of
      importing the salt.

      Price controls on other basic foodstuffs were
      lifted last month.

      Zimbabwe was once a bread-basket for the
      southern African region.

      But due to drought, the seizure of
      white-owned farms and food price controls, it
      is now dependent on food aid.

      Huge losses

      "Do they still want to work in partnership [with
      the government]? If not, we will take over
      their enterprises", Robert Mugabe told a
      Zanu-PF meeting over the week-end.

      National Foods denies hoarding the salt but
      says that government price controls are
      causing huge losses to the company.

      "We cannot afford to
      sell salt, which is
      imported, at the
      controlled price, which
      is less than half what
      we paid for it," a
      National Foods
      spokesman said,
      according to the
      correspondent for the
      British Daily Telegraph
      in Harare.

      The salt was imported
      at an exchange rate
      six times higher than the government's fixed
      rate, according to the company spokesman.

      National Foods says it has been negotiating
      with the government to find a compromise
      price at which the salt can be sold without
      damaging the company.

      'Unnecessary suffering'

      On Sunday, Zimbabwean state radio reported
      the president as saying that he would not
      "tolerate companies bent on causing
      unnecessary suffering to people by creating
      unnecessary shortages".

      Officials of the ruling Zanu-PF party had found
      2,000 metric tons of salt at National Foods
      warehouses, according to the radio.

      National Foods is the largest food production
      and supply company in Zimbabwe and employs
      over 4,000 people.

      President Mugabe and
      his party have
      frequently accused
      multinational
      companies, along with
      the country's white
      farmers, of being part
      of a conspiracy
      against his
      government and of
      depriving the country
      of food.

      The Sunday Mail says
      that the president now
      says that multinational companies will be asked
      if they wish to co-operate with the
      government.

      If not, the paper says, the government will
      take over their enterprises in Zimbabwe and
      transfer control to local people.

      *****

      Ex-president fears for
      Zambia's stability

      The former President of Zambia, Kenneth
      Kaunda, has warned that the political situation
      in the country is "volatile".

      Mr Kaunda made his comments after after the
      incumbent head of state, Levy Mwanawasa,
      said that he had uncovered a plot to
      assassinate him and other key leaders.

      Mr Kaunda urged President Mwanawasa to take
      action against the alleged coup plotters.

      Correspondents say
      details of the coup
      plot are vague.

      Mr Mwanawasa said
      that some people were
      planning to kill him
      because of his
      determination to fight
      corruption in the
      country.

      He did not identify the
      people he suspects of
      planning a coup, but
      he said the security forces were now watching
      them closely.

      "The nation should not be surprised that I will
      ask my officers to arrest a few people and
      prosecute them in court on charges of
      treason," he was quoted as saying by a
      Zambian newspaper, The Post.

      He repeated that the fight against corruption
      in the country was one of his top priorities.

      "What we are doing now is not a playing
      matter, it's a serious matter, this country
      should not have been as poor as it is now," Mr
      Mwanawasa said.

      "I am doing this not because I hate those who
      plundered the country. I am doing it because I
      love my country, because people want what
      we are doing.

      "Whether they like it or not, I am going to
      ensure that this programme is brought to its
      conclusion."

      Split looming

      The president also said that, as part of
      increased precautions, crowds of his
      supporters would no longer be allowed to
      welcome him hom from foreign trips at the
      airport because his enemies could hide among
      them.

      Mr Mwanawasa came to power with 29% of
      the vote in last December's election.

      Opposition parties alleged massive fraud and
      took the case to court.

      Mr Mwanawasa is also facing a split withing his
      ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy
      party.

      *****

      Also, I saw part of this documentary last night on Howard University
      Television. Very interesting. I recommend looking for it on your local
      PBS station.

      http://www.tshirttravels.com/
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