Zimbabwe: British MPs defy Brown
Posted: Friday, July 4, 2008

Herald Reporter
July 04, 2008
The Herald

SIX British Conservative Party Members of Parliament and one Liberal Democrat, with investments worth over 1 million in Zimbabwe, have joined hands to oppose further sanctions on the country as suggested by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Following President Mugabe's landslide victory last Friday, Brown said his government was working on a new sanctions regime to suffocate the Zanu-PF Government and give birth to an MDC-T government.

The seven have significant stakes in mining, manufacturing and retail companies either operating in Zimbabwe or trading directly or indirectly with local businesses.

Conservative shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve holds shares worth 240 000 in mining giants Anglo American and Rio Tinto, commercial bank Standard Chartered and oil company Shell.

Anglo American is presently being attacked by the British government for announcing its intention to invest US$400 million in Unki Platinum Mine in Shurugwi.

Grieve has reportedly refused to bow to pressure to take his investments out of Zimbabwe and is said to be opposed to Brown's plans to make it harder for British firms to operate in the country.

Another senior member of the party, Jonathan Djano-gly, is understood to have vast investments in Barclays, Shell, BP and Tesco.

Earlier this week, Tesco -- one of the world's largest retail chains -- announced that it would no longer buy farm produce, including peas and beans, from Zimbabwe after succumbing to pressure from Brown's office to sabotage the Land Reform Programme by not purchasing food from the country.

Djanogly, who is the shadow business secretary in the Conservative Party, has argued that it would not be right for the UK to ban British companies from operating in Zimbabwe and that shareholders should be given room to make representations to government on the issue.

Conservative Party shadow roads secretary Robert Goodwill is also a Barclays Bank shareholder while his colleague, Anthony Steen, has stakes in Unilever and Shell.

Goodwill said it was "better to bring pressure to bear as a shareholder but it was not a very good time to sell his shares" in Barclays.

Other British MPs with investments in Zimbabwe are Sir John Stanley, who has shares in Shell, and Tim Boswell, who is said to have stakes in Barclays Bank and Tesco.

The Liberal Democrat with investments in companies linked with or actively operating in Zimbabwe is Sir Robert Smith. His interests are in Rio Tinto and Shell.

Soon after the June 27 presidential election run-off, Smith said while he supported the UK's illegal regime change agenda through making ordinary Zimbabweans suffer, he was hesitant about implementing a blanket sanctions regime on the country.

"If we really believe that total economic isolation and suffering of the people of Zimbabwe will bring down the regime, then that is something we should consider, but it should be done in a proper politically debated way to make sure any consequences are fully thought through."

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has refused to commit himself on the sanctions issue and instead urged his followers to "examine their own responsibilities".

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