(Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday threatened to seize foreign companies, including mines, if they engaged in economic sabotage as part of a campaign to oust his government.
The threat came after a government minister said on Tuesday Zimbabwe will transfer control of all companies to locals if a planned black empowerment bill is passed. Analysts have said the move could deepen the country’s economic crisis.
Following are major events since the economic problems began:
1998 - An economic crisis marked by high interest rates and inflation provokes riots and mass support for the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions headed by Morgan Tsvangirai. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is formed and Tsvangirai is appointed leader the next year.
1999 - World Bank and IMF suspend aid to Zimbabwe over differences with the government on policies.
2000 - Mugabe’s government loses referendum on constitutional reforms, and in the face of growing opposition to his rule, his supporters invade and seize white-owned commercial farms, saying the land was illegally taken by white settlers.
— Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party wins parliamentary polls amid charges of fraud and vote rigging by the opposition.
2001 - Zimbabwe suffers food shortages that government critics blame on farm seizures, but Mugabe blames on drought.
— Several Western governments quietly withdraw economic aid over rights abuses by the government and Mugabe’s land policy.
2002 - Mugabe wins new six-year term in elections. Observers condemn poll as flawed and unfair.
— Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe, while EU imposes travel sanctions and freezes assets of Mugabe’s associates.
— Collapse of commercial agriculture and poor weather contribute to serious food shortages, leaving about half of Zimbabwe’s population in need of emergency food aid.
— U.N. agencies, Britain and the U.S. help fund food aid.
2003 - Hundreds of companies are forced to shut down due to economic hardships and rising inflation.
2004 - The EU renews sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle.
2005 - Mugabe’s party wins parliamentary election, which the opposition say was rigged.
— The IMF begins process to expel Zimbabwe from the fund over dues unpaid since 2001.
— A U.N. report in July says Zimbabwe should halt its indiscriminate bulldozing of shanty buildings, calling the operation a disastrous venture that had cost 700,000 people their homes or jobs and affected 2.4 million others.
2006 - Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rises above 1,000 percent in April, dramatising the severity of its economic crisis. Redenominated notes are issued in August.
— Mugabe vows at the ZANU-PF congress in December, his government will not collapse.
2007 - ZANU-PF adopts a motion to hold elections in 2008 in March and endorse Mugabe as its presidential candidate.
— Annualised inflation stands at 3,713.9 percent in April, a monthly rate of increase of 100.7 percent, according to official government data.
— Zimbabwe imports 60,000 tonnes of wheat to ease bread shortages after millers run out of the grain. The government said it did not meet its annual consumption requirements of between 400,000 and 450,000 tonnes of wheat.
— Zimbabwe says it has ordered prices of basic goods and services to be cut in half to protect Zimbabweans battling with the world’s highest inflation rate. The measure only rolls back prices to levels on June 18.