Mugabe, who himself had not been refused permission to travel to Switzerland, boycotted the international telecommunications summit after immigration authorities refused visas to his wife, spokesman, secret service chief and other senior government officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
Mugabe and his top lieutenants are banned from traveling to the United States and the European Union as punishment for not upholding the rule of law, democracy and human rights. Switzerland is not a member of the EU but has acted in concert with the bloc on Zimbabwe.
“We were surprised, if not saddened, by what they have done. Much more, the Swiss government has always held itself as a neutral country that did not countenance war as it was neutral in any conflict even during the First and Second World Wars,” Mugabe yesterday told journalists upon arrival at Harare International Airport from a private visit to Asia.
"Now they are showing that they are vicious and we will reciprocate because they have their properties here. We are not without means to reciprocate,” he said, pointing out that refusing visas to members of his delegation was in violation of UN rules.
Under rules and regulations governing hosting of UN summits the Western countries are required to allow Mugabe and his entourage onto their territories to attend such meetings.
While Mugabe did not specify which Swiss property he had in mind, but his comments could stir fresh trouble for the Zimbabwean operation of Swiss multinational firm, Nestlé.
Radical elements from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party are likely to see his threats as an order to pile more pressure on the giant milk processor to cede control of its Harare plant to black Zimbabweans in line with the country’s controversial economic indigenisation programme.
Nestlé Zimbabwe was already one of the foreign-owned corporations that the government has said should transfer controlling stake to by blacks 2015.
Under the controversial economic indigenisation and empowerment law that came into force last year foreign-owned firms must sell at least 51 percent shares to indigenous black Zimbabweans or face a host of punitive measures including fines or withdrawal of operating licences.Post published in: News