Britain condemns 'irresponsible' Mugabe takeover talk
Britain condemned as "irresponsible" Thursday a threat by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to boycott Western products and seize companies from countries that have imposed sanctions against him.
At a rally on Wednesday, Mugabe condemned the presence of more than 400 British firms in Zimbabwe while London was involved in EU sanctions against him and his allies, and said: "We must take over."
"This action is irresponsible," a Foreign Office spokesman said.
"It will damage Zimbabwean livelihoods and deter much needed foreign investment at a time when the Zimbabwean economy is starting to recover from the disastrous effects of Mugabe's earlier economic policy."
He said Zimbabwe's finance minister and "many others" in the government and business community there "share our concern about the effect such statements will have in deterring the investment needed to allow the country to develop".
The spokesman said Britain would "do what we can" to support British firms that may be forced to sign up to an anti-sanctions campaign as a way of avoiding nationalisations.
The US and EU sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and members of his inner circle, who are accused of seriously undermining democracy, respect to human rights abuses and the rule of law.
Mugabe has long had a tense relationship with former colonial ruler Britain.
© 2011 AFP