Zimbabwe: Chrome Company Execs Brief Mnangagwa

The Moti Group's African Chrome Fields (ACF) has pleaded with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to address a number of factors hampering its operations before the miner can bounce back in Zimbabwe where it is currently under care and maintenance.

The meeting between ACF representatives and Mnangagwa's team which took place at in Harare was necessitated by the challenges facing the chrome miner's operations in Zimbabwe and the recent scaling down by the company in terms of production and investment.

ACF, based in Kwekwe, has invested over US$250 million in Zimbabwe in the last five years and of late the directors of the company have been quoted as saying it was very difficult to do business in the country.

"The meeting was to discuss the way forward," an official who attended the meeting told the Zimbabwe Independent.Among the issues they brought to Mnangagwa's attention was the issue of currency and the exchange rate.

When the group invested in Zimbabwe, the country was using a multi-currency system where the United States dollar was at 1:1 with the bond note. As of yesterday, the Zimbabwean dollar was officially trading at $15,3 to US$1 on the inter-bank market.

The company says the currency volatility has hampered not only the operations of ACF but has also affected its most valuable asset -- its employees -- in various ways.

ACF said economic conditions will determine further foreign direct investment (FDI) in various other sectors and this principle is a standard requirement for FDI in any country, adding that Mnangagwa should also address issues of macro-economic policy to ensure macro-economic stability.

The ACF team also spoke to Mnangagwa about the issues of energy, that is electricity and fuel and infrastructure and accessibility. Zimbabwe has been experiencing massive power blackouts and fuel shortages.

"They said there was need to improve the invironment to facilitate investment," the official said ACF also advised Zimbabwe to develop financial and fiscal incentives to help investors and improve on the ease of doing business.

ACF spokesperson and project liaison director Ashruf Kaka confirmed the meeting and dispelled reports of the company disinvesting in Zimbabwe.

The company is also monitoring the chrome price, which has gone down, in order for them to bounce back.

"We reduced operations to an extent and continue to attend to the necessary care and maintenance of the remainder of the plants such that we can upscale when the conditions improve," Kaka said.

However, the company said it was impressed with the quality of the pool of skills and the work ethic of the labour in Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa on his part said he was happy that they were not disinvesting in Zimbabwe and said he would also be pleased to see them come back and put more money into the country, adding that government was working towards creating an enabling environment for FDI and local investment.

The company also met with Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando to discuss the same issues.

ACF has also engaged the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe pertaining to various unfounded allegations against the company in the media in recent times.

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