Skip to comments.Mugabe may seize oil giants' assets
Posted on 12/15/2002 3:43:24 PM PST by MadIvan
PRESIDENT MUGABE of Zimbabwe has threatened to seize the facilities of leading oil companies operating in the country and use them to distribute fuel.
At the annual congress of his ruling Zanu (PF) party, Mr Mugabe said that the Government could acquire service stations and storage facilities, compensate the companies to which they belonged and dispense the fuel. There are five multinational oil firms with a presence in Zimbabwe BP, Shell, Mobil, Total and Caltex and their assets there are worth millions of pounds.
Lawyers said that such a move would be illegal. One lawyer, who did not wish to be identified, said: It would be patently unconstitutional. Besides, most of the international oil companies are covered by bilateral treaties from this kind of nationalisation.
The Presidents remarks came two weeks after the Government said that it was drafting a new policy within its so-called indigenisation programme to allocate fuel supplies to the 24 independent companies licensed to retail fuel, nearly all of which are owned by senior Zanu (PF) officials.
Fuel reserves in the country have reached their lowest levels in three years, since leading oil companies cut off supplies to the state-owned National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) when the Government failed to pay arrears for imports.
In the past week the queues of drivers have lengthened and more service stations have been putting up no fuel signs. Vehicles abandoned at the roadside for lack of fuel have become commonplace.
In Chinhoyi, the venue of the conference, fuel was available only for party officials. A journalist was told at a Mobil service station that he could buy petrol only if he could prove that he was a delegate.
Mr Mugabe said that the oil companies were making huge profits while the Government made losses from importing fuel via Noczim, which sells it on to the multinationals to distribute. However, industry executives said that Noczims enormous losses were a result of price controls that forced it to sell fuel at the equivalent of about 3p per litre while buying it for about ten times that price.
Mr Mugabe has ignored Noczims pleas for a price increase.
Economists say that total state control over fuel distribution would condemn the industry to the same failure affecting much of the countrys agriculture, transport, mining, telecommunications, railways and power industries.
Mugabes thinking is that taps make water, a Western diplomat said. If he goes ahead (with the takeover of multinational service stations), the country will dry up far quicker than it is doing already.
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I see Mugabe wants to now work his magic on the energy industry after doing so well in agriculture.
Who will run the service stations, veterans or his relatives?
Now that Mugabe is messing with oil companies, not just farmers, the chance of his being targeted goes way up. Hope this situation is taken care of soon - by someone.
I'm afraid that there is a limit to how many foreign involvements even America can take on. And talk about a p.r. disaster--making war on a black nation led by a black man would be ruinous for Bush politically. I don't think you should hold your breath waiting for this to happen, Ivan.
I've been thinking that for awhile myself!
Considering the food shortages and Idi Amin as an example, that might be a literal truth.
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