The Herald (Harare)

13 December 2012

Zimbabwe: 'Zimplats Committed to Indigenisation'

Photo: Zimplats
Platinum mine in Zimbabwe

ZIMPLATS has reaffirmed its commitment to working with the Government to comply with indigenisation and empowerment laws and dismissed reports it is trying to evade the requirements. The platinum producer said it was committed to being a good corporate citizen and implementing an indigenisation plan that meets Government objectives.

This contrasts with recent media reports suggesting the company was mulling delaying tactics in anticipation of a favourable election result next year that would set aside the requirement.

But an Implats spokesperson said this week: "Zimplats and its major shareholder remains deeply committed to Zimbabwe, its workers and the community, and is actively engaging with the Government over the terms on which the indigenisation programme will be implemented."

In mid-November, the Implats board decided to accelerate its indigenisation efforts and an amended proposal was submitted to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund.

The company said it was the first foreign company to extend US$10 million to the Mhondoro-Chegutu-Zvimba community share ownership trust, as part of its compliance plan and in demonstration of its commitment to meet indigenisation requirements in line with Government objectives.

The indigenisation policies require foreign-owned firms to sell 51 percent of their stake to locals. Government argues that indigenisation and empowerment will ensure previously disadvantaged Zimbabweans benefit from the country's vast mineral wealth.

This is also meant to ensure that the majority of Zimbabweans benefit from the finite mineral resources.

But recent media reports based on leaked board minutes suggested that the giant platinum producer had resolved to buy time on complying with indigenisation laws in the hope Zanu-PF, which came up with the policy, would lose the general election next year.

The reports also alleged that the firm was considering further proposals to the Government to pacify its agitation on delays in complying with indigenisation laws. The strategy is allegedly contained in the minutes of an Implats board meeting held on November 15, 2012 and meant to discuss how the firm intended to comply with the law.

The minutes, allegedly presented to the board by Implats chief financial officer and executive committee member Brenda Berlin, indicated that the company expected the South African Government to back its "secretive" plans.

Implats is Zimplats parent company.

A Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Government's fears that Zimplats was dragging its feet in complying with the indigenisation policy had been confirmed following the leaked minutes.

But this was despite the initial compliance plan that Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere approved and former Implats chief executive David Brown signed last March.

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