By Mernat Mafirakurewa
Government on Thursday took over all foreign mining firms that have not complied with the Indigenisation and Empowerment law to dispose 51% shareholding to locals. Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere said profits accruing to the 51% now belonged to government and warned affected firms that attempt to defraud the State will be prosecuted.
But, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai immediately rebuffed the claims and urged business to ignore Kasukuweres notice saying he had executive powers and the Constitution of Zimbabwe bestow him with the authority to oversee and supervise policy formulation and implementation.
The development comes at a time Kasukuwere disclosed government was working on ways to ensure it does not, for instance, pay for equity in platinum mines it has targeted for localisation.
In March 2008, President Robert Mugabe signed into law the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and last year through General Notice 114 of 2011 which represents the legal framework for the indigenisation of the mining sector, Kasukuwere gave mining firms 45 days to file their empowerment plans.
All mining companies that have not complied with this notice should note that 51% of their shareholding is now deemed to be owned by the State and any business transacted in respect of this 51% shall have been transacted on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe with effect from the deadline stipulated in the said General Notice 114 of 2011, which deadline for the avoidance of doubt was September 25, 2011, Kasukuwere said.
Any profit accruing to this 51% should be regarded as property of the State and any losses incurred will be charged against the companys assets, less the 51% indigenised portion, for any company that transacts without government involvement with effect from September 25, 2011.
Companies are hereby advised that they are now dealing with assets of the State in respect to the 51% indigenised portion and any attempt to defraud the State will result in prosecution.
Kasukuwere in his notice urged citizens, middle managers and general workforce of the firms involved that they are now expected to defend the Zimbabwean 51% equity stake and to also uphold and execute the national interest in respect of the administration, trade and any other business transaction so as to ensure total indigenous economic empowerment.
On Thursday, Tsvangirai said it was not government policy to nationalise mining assets or any other business for that matter.
“The Prime Minister would like to inform the public that there is no such government position. That issue has not been discussed and agreed upon by government. The Prime Minister wishes to inform the public in general and mining firms in particular that the inclusive government has not sanctioned the ministers actions that are a threat to investment in the industry.
“The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act does not empower the minister to unilaterally nationalise private entities and there is no reason to create panic among investors by projecting the image of a voracious government keen to grab compulsorily peoples companies without compensation”, the Premier said.
He said anybody that would act on Kasukuweres notice would be doing so unlawfully and without the mandate of the inclusive government. The Prime Minister takes a serious view of the ministers attempts to incite the public to act unlawfully against mining businesses.
The ministers statement poses a real risk of creating anarchy in the industry and the PM will take corrective measures within the proper fora and channels of government, he said. Tsvangirai said the countrys economic interests demand a proper policy that creates jobs for millions of the unemployed and not a political campaign platform that would only benefit the elite. NewsDay
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