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No amendments to indigenisation law: Kasukuwere

By Martin Kadzere: Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has dismissed as mischievous reports that indigenisation and economic empowerment regulations were being amended to provide for payment of shares using mineral deposits, saying it will engage mining firms that submitted compliance plans on the basis of agreed term sheets.

Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told journalists in Harare yesterday that the law "has not changed" and its implementation was guided by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

Platinum miners Unki Mine, Mimosa Mining Company and Zimplats had earlier agreed to dispose of 51 percent stake to indigenous Zimbabweans under vendor financing schemes. Reports claimed the indigenisation law was being amended and that new regulations would invalidate part of the agreements entered between mining firms and Government such that locals' mineral contribution represents their payment.

While the Act empowers the minister, after consultations with the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board to make regulations which enhance the achievement of the 51 percent local shareholding, the minister said implementation of the programme was being guided by the current regulations.

"As the minister responsible, I have the delegated legal responsi-bility to make regulations in the interests of achieving the Government policy on indigenisation and economic empowerment, which I deem necessary," the minister said. "(But) my ministry continues to engage major mining companies on the basis of the term sheets, which we signed during 2012.

"As previously stated, the term sheets are non-binding and subject to negotiation and approval by the relevant Government authorities. Any reports to the contrary are misleading and misguided." Minister Kasukuwere said the Government will continue engaging businesses with a view to achieve 51 percent local shareholding requirement on a "mutually beneficial basis." "It is work in progress and we are firmly in control of the process that we have started," he said.

There were reports that the owners of Redwing and Arcturus mines had visited their entities and announced that they were cutting on production and streamlining operations on account of the purported changes to the indigenisation laws. Efforts to get comment from Mr Mzi Khumalo were fruitless at the time of going to press. But in a statement yesterday, the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe said it was unaware of the "amendments", neither had it been advised of any changes by its members.

"As of now, the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe has not received any written communication or advised of the proposed changes, neither has it been advised by any of its members of receipt of such communication," said the Chamber.

"It is common knowledge that most of our members are positively engaged with Government on the indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme and keen on ensuring its expeditious conclusion in the spirit of unlocking the full value of the mining sector and its role in the economic transformation of Zimbabwe".

The chamber said it is "hopeful" that the relationship with the Government would be maintained and that future dialogue would be "guided by mutual interests and the collective desire to build better and prosperous Zimbabwe."

Some of the non-binding agreements entered between the Government and foreign resource firms include the US$971 million Zimplats deal, Mimosa's US$550 million, Unki's US$142 million and Caledonia Mining Company's US$30 million.

The Government adopted the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy to empower the previously marginalised black Zimbabweans to enable them to participate in mainstream economic activities.


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