Zimbabwean Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere says his ministry is moving to cancel the mining license of Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings or Zimplats after its parent failed to agree to put a controlling stake in black hands.
Daily newspapers including Newsday and the state-controlled Herald on Wednesday quoted Kasukuwere as saying his ministry has hit a dead end in negotiations with Zimplats, which had been given until Friday to revise its indigenization plan.
Kasukuwere said the firm refuses to put a 51 percent ownership stake in the hands of black Zimbabweans. He said Zimplats insists that it has already given the government US$150 million worth of mineral resources for the empowerment program.
The government has rejected that argument, insisting on a transfer of a 51 percent controlling stake in the mining operation owned by Impala Platinum Holdings of South Africa. Impala has offered a 25 percent stake plus local community support.
Zimplats spokesperson Busi Chindove said the firm is still in talks with the government on revising the indigenization plan, but declined to comment further. indigenization Minister Kasukuwere was not immediately available for comment.
But Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said the government must follow proper procedures in canceling operating licences of mining firms failing to comply with indigenization rules.
Economist Rejoice Ngwenya said Kasukuwere should stop threatening mining companies that are playing a key role in reviving Zimbabwe’s battered economy.
"This is a world-class mine that is employing 4,000 people with huge infrastructure, so for a minister like Kasukuwere just to take a desktop decision [to demand a controlling stake] shows the magnitude and the depth of his naivete in understanding the critical importance of business in general," Ngwenya said.