Zanu clash over Indian businesses

joice_mujuruHARARE - Attempts by the Zanu (PF) top brass to woe rich Indians in Zimbabwe in order to get election campaign donations have drawn fire from party youths who say they should be kicked out of the country and have their businesses seized just like those of other foreigners. (Pictured: Joice Mujuru)

Vice-President Joice Mujuru on Thursday met members of the Indian business community, who demanded commercial farmland violently grabbed from white farmers. They also asked for assurances that they would not have their businesses seized by party hooligans who have gone on a rampage, giving ultimatums to all foreigners to hand over their businesses or face violent retribution.

Mujuru apologised to the Indians, who traditionally contribute significantly to Zanu (PF) election campaigns but are now targetted under the ongoing so-called indigenisation programme crafted by Mugabe mainly to enrich his cronies and relatives. The controversial programme is also being used to settle scores with those from countries that have imposed sanctions on the dictator.

Radical black empowerment group, Upfumi Kuvadiki, a Zanu (PF) creation, came out with guns blazing. They rejected attempts by top party officials to treat Indians differently from other foreign investors. “What the Indians are saying is nonsense,” Upfumi Kuvadiki spokesman Alson Darikai told The Zimbabwean on Friday.”The definition of indigenisation according to the Empowerment Act is that it must give opportunities to people who were previously disadvantaged. The Indian community oppressed us. They have shops and they have businesses so it is nonsensical for them to say they must be considered for resettlement.”

Several Indian businessmen interviewed by this paper said they had received mysterious, unsigned letters written on government letterheads ordering them to give up their businesses by June 1 or face violence similar to that which drove out nearly all 6 000 white farmers from Zimbabwe since 2000.

“Some men dressed in suits just came and told me they had been sent by the president to take our business,” said a leading wholesaler, who asked not to be named. “When I asked them abou payment, they told me to remember what had happened to white farmers and said they would have me deported next week if I did not co-operate. I’m terrified for

my family.”

Another businessman said he had been ordered to donate to the Zanu (PF) election campaign if he wanted to keep his retail business. The meeting with Mujuru was inconclusive as she told the businessmen a committee of Zanu ministers was dealing with the issue. The so-called indigenisation committee comprises indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, local government minister Ignatius Chombo, and information minister Webster Shamu.

Mugabe’s party is believed to be dangling the carrot of black empowerment to lure back youths who have abandoned it in frustration over jobs and the behaviour of senior party officials who have acquired fabulous wealth by looting the state treasury and white-owned farms. Mugabe has said he will order his supporters to grab multinationals such as Rio Tinto, Nestle, Barclays Bank and Zimplats.

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