Zim: Seizure claims meant as threat
06 April 2012, 09:12
Harare - Zimbabwe threatened on Thursday to take over foreign mining companies that fail to hand over a majority stake to locals, as required by law, toning down an earlier statement that it was taking immediate ownership.
Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said in a statement earlier on Thursday that the state had taken majority shares in foreign mining firms which had not sold 51% of their equity to black Zimbabweans as required.
Kasukuwere later told AFP that the statement had been meant as a threat so as to encourage foreign miners to comply with the law forthwith.
"The notice is simply to urge those companies that have not complied or are dilly dallying to submit their plans as required by the law...and we are saying to all the companies they should complete their negotiations with the government and bring the issue to finality," he said.
Zimbabwe passed laws two years ago requiring foreign companies to cede 51 percent of their shares to "indigenous Zimbabweans".
The largest foreign miners in Zimbabwe have already reached deals with the government and should not be affected by the announcement.
These include Unki - owned by the biggest producer of platinum in the world, the British-South African combine Anglo American - and Zimplats, the local unit of the world's second-biggest platinum miner, South African's Impala Platinum.
The law would be implemented retroactively from September 25 2011, when companies had to hand in plans on how they intended to sell their majority shares.
Companies have to pay to the government its share in profits gained from that date, according to the earlier statement.
"We expect everyone to respect the law. The companies that have not complied are being asked to approach the indigenisation board and if there is need for compensation they should discuss that with the board," Kasukuwere told AFP.
The minister was not immediately able to give details on how many or which companies would be affected.
Zimbabwe's Chamber of Mines was not available for comment.
Meanwhile Finance Minister Tendai Biti said foreign banks would not be similarly affected.
"We are saying for the banking sector it can't be 51%", Biti said at a news conference.
"Banks don't generate money. It's a sector you can't touch."
Central bank governor Gideon Gono said: "It's not right to destabilise the banking sector for short-term gratification that leads to unintended consequences."