President Robert Mugabe said his government would take over Western companies whose governments maintain a travel embargo and an asset freeze on his family and inner circle.
The veteran ruler is also pushing an indigenisation policy that seeks to force multinationals to cede their majority shareholding to locals.
Companies that have been singled out for hostile takeovers include South African- owned Zimplats and Swiss food giant Nestle, which refused to buy Mugabe’s milk in 2009.
Emmanuel Nnadozie, the director of the economic development and Nepad division in the ECA and AUC director for economic affairs Rene Kouassi told journalists that previous attempts at nationalisation in Africa had been a monumental failure.
The two spoke on Thursday as experts kick-started preparations for the 4th joint annual meetings of the ECA and AU conference of ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development that opens here tomorrow.
Organised under the theme: “Governing development: The role of the State,” the conference will discuss ways of strengthening African governments’ role in economic development.
Responding to a question on the raging nationalisation debate in Zimbabwe, Nnadozie said although African countries had varied development challenges, grabbing already thriving companies would be retrogressive.
“This conference is definitely not about nationalisation but strengthening the role of the State in the development agenda,” he said.
“I will remind everyone that the history of nationalisation in Africa has not been a very good one.”
He said instead of taking over already thriving enterprises, governments must be looking at ways of stimulating growth such as stimulus packages and soft loans for small to medium-scale enterprises.
Zimbabwe wants to nationalise multinational companies a few years after grabbing white-owned commercial farms on the pretext that it was correcting a colonial land imbalance.
The majority of the farms, which were parcelled out to Mugabe’s cronies, are lying idle and the country has fallen from being a net exporter of food a decade ago to rely on donors to feed its population.
In Addis Ababa, the ministers, academics and senior officials from regional and international organisations that include the United Nations system and the World Bank will discuss health financing.
The green economy and leveraging opportunities for accelerated economic growth.
The organisers say the need for a rethink on the role of the state in Africa’s development had been necessitated by the realisation that the modest economic growth being recorded had not translated into poverty reduction and higher employment.