The country’s indigenisation and empowerment regulations, which require foreign mining companies to transfer 51% equity stakes in local entities to indigenous investors, is “flexible” and does not aim to seize or nationalise assets, a government official said on Thursday.
Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada told investors at a conference in Australia:
“It is a flexible law and investors are given time to comply. It’s not about seizure of assets, it’s not about expropriation.”
The announcement comes days after Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone said local banks still had a lot to learn from foreign banks that had been threatened with ejection if they failed to comply with the empowerment laws.
Last month several foreign mining firms, including Zimplats, a unit of Impala Platinum, the Mimosa platinum mine owned by Aquarius, Rio Tinto’s Murowa diamond mine and Caledonia’s Blanket gold mine, received letters directing them to submit fresh empowerment plans within 14 days or risk losing operating licences.
“We still have little experience and have to learn from those who are experienced like Barclays, Standard Chartered and Stanbic. That’s where the likes of NMB, TN and other banks can learn from. If we go and grab Barclays what would we have done. If they take it, let’s withdraw our money and see what will happen. It will draw us back because of other people’s greediness,” said Makone.
“If a law is bad, it has to be sorted out.
Indigenisation came before GNU and has negative clauses that have to be sorted out.
“We need broad-based empowerment and not black empowerment. Black empowerment will empower the already rich blacks.”
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono recently warned officials against issuing statements that could affect the functioning of the country’s financial sector.
“To this end, tendencies towards firing harmful verbal economic gunpowder must be minimised by all stakeholders in the interest of the economy and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Board forewarns people playing with economic gunpowder to leave the game to those well-trained in its use and safe custody, lest the unintended happens, to everyone’s future regret,” said Gono.