Comment: When elephants fight the grass suffers

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Indications that negotiations between government and mining giant, Zimbabwe Platinum Mine Limited (Zimplats), over the latter’s indigenisation plan have finally paid off after a lot of resistance, haggling and threats have shown that dialogue is always the way to go.

This comes after reports that the government had cancelled the Zimplats’ operating licence after the mining giant had reportedly failed to meet the 14-day ultimatum issued earlier by Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

We welcome these latest developments as they are mutually beneficial not only to the government and Zimplats, but to the nation, and in particular, local communities that were likely going to be hit hard by the results of a confrontational approach.

Obviously, in that move, a lot of jobs are going to be saved and that translates into the well-being of the families whose breadwinners are employed there.

We would not have wanted to see a repeat scenario of what happened to the then Ziscosteel, now New Zimsteel.

Zimplats currently employs 4 000 workers, including contractors, and projections were that the conglomerate would employ 6 000 within the next two years and 10 000 in five years.

In light of this, we shudder to imagine what would have happened had the indigenisation of the company been done in a chaotic and haphazard manner.

The latest developments further show that through negotiation and flexibility, significant mutual benefits are always reaped whereas entrenched positions and inflexible bravado does not help anyone save to caress the ego of a few individuals in high offices while ordinary people on the ground go through hardships and untold suffering.

Real indigenisation must be a win-win situation and not merely a slap in the face of foreign players in our local economy.

Confrontations hardly produce palatable results, but are likely to leave both sides with a sour taste in the mouth.

We believe that the fruitful agreement will ensure the continued smooth production and avoid the scenario that happened in former white-owned commercial farms where resettlement was done in a haphazard manner and significantly affected production leading to a serious knock on the economy.

The good thing, however, is that finally, sanity seems to have prevailed and we pray that this will spread to all other mining companies that have been targeted for indigenisation.

We need to implement the indigenisation processes in such a way that they do not become synonymous with retrogression, but will ensure that the indigenous people of this country are truly empowered not only by the word of politicians, but in deed, too.