Zimbabwe: 16 business leaders arrested

Harare / ZW. (wib) Police arrested 16 more business leaders in a crackdown on those suspected of violating the government´s order to slash prices by 50 percent, the official media reported this days. The mandated price cuts are a desperate attempt to confront inflation that has spun out of control during Zimbabwe´s economic crisis. The falling prices have caused stampedes, panic buying and near riots by impoverished Zimbabweans.

Among those arrested in the latest sweep were the directors of supermarket and gas station owners. Also taken into custody were Michael Fowler and Zed Koudanaris, directors of the main food distributor and fast food chain, and Gavin Sainsbury, chief executive of the country´s biggest producer of pork products, the state Sunday Mail reported. Fowler and Koudanaris pioneered popular branded bakery, pizza and take out franchises in Zimbabwe, including Nando´s, known for its chicken dishes across Africa.

No information was immediately available on specific allegations against the business leaders or where they were being held. Police holding cells are notorious for filthy and harsh conditions.

The country´s economic crisis, the worst since independence from Britain in 1980, began with the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks in 2000. The country´s agriculture-based economy collapsed as a result. Official inflation is running at 4.500 percent, the highest in the world, though independent financial institutions estimate real inflation is closer to 9.000 percent (source: AngolaPress | AllAfrica).