Lawyer says Mpofu can’t cancel ACR licences
By Leonard Makombe
AFRICAN Consolidated Resources (ACR) shareholder and legal counsel Jonathan Samkange said threats to cancel the company’s mining licences by Mines minister Obert Mpofu this week were of no legal effect.
Samkange said it was only the mining commissioner who had the legal standing to cancel the licences.
“The minister is not the mining commissioner,” said Samkange. “This is a mistake (the minister has made) and it will be challenged on the basis of what the minister has said.”
Mpofu this week said government would revoke ACR’s licences because there were irregularities when they were issued out. A blanket cancellation of all mining licences came as a shock for the company that is listed on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Markets (AIM) as it was also still fighting a legal battle over its claim of Marange diamonds.
ACR has been in dispute with the Ministry of Mines since March 2007 in connection with the alluvial diamond discovery at Marange. The firm has consistently maintained its preparedness to resolve the issue in a transparent manner for the benefit of all stakeholders. Samkange said ACR was a Zimbabwean company with a local shareholding and it was unfair to label it a foreign owned firm.
“Listing on London Stock Exchange’s AIM does not make ACR a British firm,” said Samkange. “There is that mistake to think that ACR is foreign owned. There are many local shareholders and it is time they come out.”
ACR shareholders have panicked because of the political developments and policy directions in the country over the years. But the latest threats prompted ACR to release a statement denying receipt of communication to that effect.
“ACR has not received any formal communication from the Minister of Mines or the government of Zimbabwe to the effect that its licences are being cancelled,” said the company in a statement.
“The board of ACR wishes to confirm categorically that there were no irregularities in the acquisition of any of its mining claims or licences known to it, and that, in its opinion having taken appropriate advice, none of them were acquired fraudulently.”
Shareholders responding to political and policy developments in the country have started questioning whether the company was still worth pursuing. One investor said: “Is 51% going to be transferred to local shareholders? I would expect the company to issue a regulatory news service if this was true.”
Another investor posted a comment on the London Stock Exchange share chat saying: “AFCR (ACR’s name on AIM) were never going to keep these and now might lose 51% to local shareholders. Will it still be worth holding this share? What price Monday morning?”
The 51% investors referred to is the new indigenisation regulations which requires that a company capitalised to above US$500 000 sell a chunk to local investors. Zimbabwe Standard