17 December 2012

Zimbabwe: 'No Sacred Cows On Indigenisation'

NO foreign-owned company will be spared from the ongoing indigenisation and empowerment programme, a Cabinet minister has said. Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke at a ceremony marking the transfer of a 51 percent stake in Mimosa Holdings to locals.

Minister Mnangagwa said there were mining companies which had operated in Zimbabwe for decades but so far "had done nothing".

"But they will do it (by complying with indigenisation and empowerment laws and invest in local communities). No one will escape this," he said.

He spoke as Implats chief executive Mr Terence Goodlace arrived to the country to discuss its local unit, Zimplats' indigenisation plan.

South Africa's Implats and Aquarius between them own the remaining foreign stake in Mimosa.

Implats and Aquarius have agreed with Government to sell a 51 stake to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund, local communities and workers.

"We are looking at a policy that brings about what we fought for," said Minister Mnangagwa, who hails from Zvishavane.

"If there are any people who think that time might come when we will reverse this policy -- no ways. The best thing is to join them, if you cannot beat them."

Government has been on a drive to ensure broad-based economic empowerment, especially through finite mineral resources.

This stems from past experience where economic activity dwindled in areas such as Mhangura, once the mineral resource was mined out, leaving the residents stranded.

As there was little or no investment or development during the life of mines in these places they quickly turned into "ghost" towns.

Minister Mnangagwa said the purpose of a foreign investor was to invest where they could make a profit not loot, but the preoccupation of locals was ownership of the resources.

"When Cecil John Rhodes first came into the country, he had the loot committee: they went around looting this country. We have to put a stop to that," he said.

To date, President Mugabe has launched seven community share ownership trusts in a bid to uplift the residents by bringing them into mainstream economic activity.

"However, what is most important is that we are very realistic," said Minister Mnangagwa. "We never aspire to dominate other countries. We never aspire to go and exploit other people in other countries.

"Our aspiration is that which God gave us, as Zimbabweans, is exploited to the maximum benefit of the people of Zimbabwe.

"If an investor feels not comfortable, we assure him that our platinum, our diamonds do not rot. They will remain sound for years underground, until we have the technology to take them out and use them."

Minister Mnangagwa said in Russia and China the economy was in the hands of locals.

But Zimbabwe was willing, for the purposes of developing the country, to partner foreign investors, as long as local people were the major beneficiaries.

For that purpose, Government would seek to ensure more benefits accrued to locals and the economy by insisting on platinum mining firms establishing a refinery in the country.

At present, most of the platinum extracted in Zimbabwe is refined in South Africa.

Local producers have said they were building enough volumes to justify the construction of a refinery in Zimbabwe.

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