Zimbabwe's President Mugabe
Zimbabwe's President Mugabe Reuters

Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, has threatened to nationalize all British and American companies operating in his country unless Western sanctions are eliminated.

Why should we continue to have 400 British companies operating here freely?,Mugabe declared. Why should we continue having companies and organizations that are supported by Britain and America without hitting back? Time has come for us to [take] revenge.

Mugabe made the comments during the annual conference of the ruling Zanu-PF party in the city of Mutare. Mugabe, 86, is expected to be nominated as the party’s candidate for the next election.

We can read the riot act and say this is 51 percent we are taking and if the sanctions persist we are taking over 100 percent, Mugabe said. (Under a new Zimbabwe law, black Zimbabweans are permitted to acquire 51 percent of foreign companies valued at more than $500,000.)

Several Western nations have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe, his wife and others. In addition, trade bans are in force against Zimbabwean individuals and companies -- all in response to alleged human rights abuses perpetrated by Mugabe and his governments.

Why shouldn't we hit back?” Mugabe told the conference. “That includes companies that are mining gold and other minerals, and some have been here since before I was born.

Prominent foreign entities currently operating in resource-rich Zimbabwe include South Africa-based Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings and Britain’s Rio Tinto Plc (NYSE: RIO), Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered.

Mugabe further warned that Zimbabwean citizens who called for sanctions against the country should face treason charges, which carries a death sentence.

There should be a legal side to it. We need to advocate for a law that punishes among us those who call for sanctions, as doing so makes it treasonous, he said Mugabe. That is treason, to call on the enemy to punish our people.

Mugabe has also called for the dissolution of his party’s power sharing agreement with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that arose after chaotic elections of 2008

Mugabe has repeatedly accused Tsvangirai and his party of supporting Western-sponsored sanctions against Zimbabwe.

[MDC] has no policy, no philosophy ... all it wants is regime change that the British and Americans have designed, he said.