Zimbabwe's Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere says his ministry will soon run crash management and corporate governance courses for traditional chiefs to enable them to run community share ownership trusts under the country’s controversial economic empowerment program.
According to the state-controlled media, Kasukuwere said chiefs need business skills as they will be running schemes initiated by various mining companies such as Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings.
Critics say community development agents should be imparted with such skills as most chiefs are aligned to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, which has been accused of corruption and grabbing assets to the disadvantage of the nation.
Foreign-owned companies are compelled by the law to transfer 51 percent equity stakes to blacks. Economists insist that such moves are blocking foreign direct investment.
Independent economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said Kasukuwere’s proposed courses are ill-conceived.
Meanwhile, China International Mining Group Corporation is expected to invest US$21 million to restart Bindura Nickel Corporation’s Trojan Mine closed in 2008.
In a statement, a spokesman for Bindura’s majority shareholder – Mwana Africa (Pvt) Ltd – said the cash injection will resuscitate the mine which used to produce over one million tonnes of nickel a year.
At the same time, Kasukuwere insists that the government will not pay for the 51 percent stake recently hammered between the state and Zimplats valued at over US$350 million.
Kasukuwere claims that the ore reserves belong to Zimbabweans and not Zimplats’s majority shareholder - South Africa’s Impala Platinum Holdings.
Company owners insist that Zimbabwe will have to fork out the money or the deal will be nullified.