Masvingo — Government is investigating Lowveld sugar cane growing giant Tongaat Hullet over an ownership structure they presented, which is believed to have been designed to evade indigenisation laws.
Addressing an all-stakeholders' meeting in Masvingo yesterday ahead of the impending launch of the Masvingo Community Share Ownership Trust, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere confirmed the development.
"We are investigating Tongaat Hullet because there is a feeling that the company lied about the ownership structure of Hippo Valley and Triangle. This could be a futile attempt to evade indigenisation.
"Government suspects the company directors deliberately supplied false information and, if this is true, they will definitely go to jail.
"There are no two ways about it. If Tongaat Hullet lied to Government, let them face the music, the indigenisation laws are clear on what happens under such circumstances," Minister Kasukuwere said.
He also warned some indigenous Zimbabweans against being used as fronts for white-owned international companies to circumvent the country's indigenisation and empowerment laws.
"I want to give a stern warning to those indigenous Zimbabweans who are used as fronts by some white-owned international companies that we will imprison such people if we find them out," he said.
He warned locals against working for white capital to frustrate indigenisation laws.
"What is so special about Tongaat Hullet? Some of these companies think that they can get away with it, but they are fooling themselves if they think they can evade our laws here. This is Zimbabwe and they (companies) must comply," he said.
Minister Kasukuwere said Government could even increase the stake that should be indigenised in foreign-owned companies from the current minimum of 51 percent up to even 100 percent ownership.
"The President sometimes asks me why we set 51 percent as the stake which should be in the hands of locals in a foreign-owned companies and not, say, 60 percent.
"The President even says we can go up to 100 percent local ownership because most of these foreign-owned companies have been looting our God-given resources for decades without any benefits to our people," he said. He said President Mugabe would soon launch the Masvingo Community Share Ownership Trust worth US$10 million.
Among the companies that are set to contribute towards the Masvingo Community Share Ownership Trust are Tongaat Hullet, Save Valley Conservancy, Steel Makers, Renco Mine, Murowa Diamond Mine and Bikita Minerals, reputed for being the biggest lithium producer in the world.