Anglo American 'should pull out of Zimbabwe'

Lihle Z Mtshali

Lihle Z Mtshali

The United Kingdom's minister of trade will advise global mining giant Anglo American to follow other multinational companies trading in Zimbabwe and disinvest from that country.

Speaking yesterday after a speech he delivered in Johannesburg on trade liberalisation, Gareth Thomas said: "A number of such companies have already taken the decision to pull out of Zimbabwe.

"We would certainly want them (Anglo) to rethink whether that investment is appropriate at this time."

Anglo American said last month it planned to invest $400million (R3,1billion) in a platinum mine at Unki, central Zimbabwe. It said it was developing the Unki platinum project because it had a responsibility to its employees, contractors and the local community.

Echoing British foreign secretary David Miliband, who yesterday called for "tough" sanctions against Zimbabwe, Thomas also urged the Zimbabwean government to lift restrictions on non-governmental organisations.

"Restrictions on international NGOs must be lifted so that they can distribute food and other help to Zimbabwean people who are suffering terribly," he said.

In a speech titled 'Getting trade liberalisation to deliver for the poor', Thomas said liberalisation of trade offered opportunities that developing countries needed.

He said countries not willing to liberalise trade laws stood the risk of being left behind while others capitalised on globalisation. He said those that did free up their trade laws should then invest in things like their infrastructure so as to take full advantage of the new opportunities available to them.