South African mining giant, Implala Platinum, on Tuesday bowed down to Harare's pressure to transfer a 51 percent stake to black Zimbabweans in line with the country’s indigenization regulations.
Addressing a news conference following lengthy discussions with Implats officials, Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said the world’s second largest producer of platinum had finally agreed to transfer a 10 percent stake to a community share ownership trust, 10 percent to its employees and 31 percent to the nation’s proposed wealth creation fund.
Implats chief executive David Brown said there, however, still remained some issues that need to be sorted out, especially the valuation of the shares.
“By meeting the principle of compliance with the indigenization laws of the country I think it creates some certainty, though there are some details that need to be worked through obviously value transfer is one of them,” said Brown.
Implats has an 87 percent stake in its Zimbabwe unit, Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings, which is currently revamping its operations in the country despite the implementation of the controversial indigenization program feared by most foreign investors. Analysts say foreign investors are holding onto billions of dollars in potential investment citing the country's empowerment laws.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called for an urgent meeting with investment and indigenization ministers in order to hammer out workable ways of implementing the controversial black economic empowerment law.
The prime minister’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said the meeting is designed to compel Kasukuwere to follow the law and not force foreign-owned companies to cede shares to indigenous blacks.
Tamborinyoka said Kasukuwere can no longer be allowed to single-handedly force foreign-owned firms to part with shares without any appropriate compensation.
Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman for the MDC formation of Welshman Ncube, says his party is also against the way the program is being implemented.
Former parliamentary legal committee chairman Obert Gutu said indigenous Zimbabweans can only buy shares in companies if the national indigenization board raises its targeted US$1 billion that will go into a fund for such purposes.
The Implats decision is seen as putting pressure on other foreign mining companies in Zimbabwe to follow suit. These include Mimosa, a 50-50 joint venture between Implats and Aquarius Platinum, and Murowa diamond mine, which is 78 percent controlled by Rio Tinto.