President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba on Monday said Switzerland should not shun visitors from Zimbabwe and expect to make money in the country, as he emphatically declared the President’s threat to take measures on Swiss companies was now policy.
The President told reporters soon after arriving from Malaysia, where he is believed to have gone for medical treatment, that Zimbabwe was surprised, “if not saddened” by Switzerland’s decision to deny him and his delegation visas to attend a United Nations meeting.
“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,” the President said.
Although Charamba refused to reveal whether the President wanted to nationalise or ensure Swiss companies cede 51% of their shares to locals in line with the country’s indigenisation laws, he said measures would definitely be taken.
“I can’t tell you the actual details because the President has announced policy and it’s now at the level of the implementers such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and possibly (Indigenisation minister, Saviour) Kasukuwere, but you know that they are not exempted from the 51/49% indigenisation policy,” he said.
“And surely, if you don’t want visitors from Zimbabwe why should you want to make money in Zimbabwe?”
Although the President did not mention which Swiss companies would be targeted there could be fresh trouble for Swiss multinational company Nestle which specialises in milk processing.
At his 87th birthday celebrations this year President Mugabe threatened the government would take over Nestle Zimbabwe after it refused to buy milk from his farm.
“Nestle refused to buy milk from Gushungo dairies,” he told supporters during celebrations organised by the 21st February Movement.
“I told (Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour) Kasukuwere to begin with them and tell them he was sent by Gushungo.
“We should deal with them; let them get out of the country.”
The Swiss Embassy officials in South Africa refused to comment on the matter and referred questions to the Foreign Ministry in Bern. Adrian Sollberger the chief information officer was, however, dodgy on the President’s threat.
“Switzerland does generally not comment on specific visa-decisions. As a general remark we can state the following: Switzerland respects all obligations of international law. Decisions by Switzerland on visa matters are taken in accordance with applicable law and take account in particular of Switzerland’s obligations as the host state of the ITU,” he said.