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Strains in Zimbabwe Government Increase With Seizure of Meikles Group

The seizure of the Zimbabwe exchange-listed Kingdom Meikles Limited Group, which owns and operates the well-known Meikles Hotel in Harare, has increased friction in the fragile unity government and, some warn, sent the wrong signal to potential foreign investors.

The government gazette late last week said authorities have effectively seized the assets of the Meikles Group under an anti-corruption law over alleged illegal financial transfers.

Kingdom Meikles, Tanganda Tea company, Thomas Meikles Center and Murlis Investments were listed as “specified,” allowing the government to place them under administration.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has condemned the takeover as a “mafia style grab of assets which erodes all hope” of economic and financial reform in the country. It did not spare Giles Mutsekwa, MDC co-minister of Home Affairs, who with his ZANU-PF counterpart Kembo Mohadi approved the takeover.

The MDC says the two ministers, who oversee the country's police, should concentrate on pursuing those who commit violence rather than grabbing private-sector assets.

Business sources said some 4,500 jobs around the country are at risk.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that government should concentrate on its responsibilities and has no business stripping private companies of their assets.

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