Mpofu distances self from Zimplats saga


Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu yesterday distanced himself from the cancellation of an operating licence for Zimbabwe Platinum Mine Limited (Zimplats) by government.

Zimplats got into trouble for allegedly failing to comply with the country’s indigenisation law.

On Tuesday, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere told journalists Zimplats had failed to meet the 14-day ultimatum issued two weeks ago to comply with the indigenisation law.

The law requires that all foreign-owned companies with investments exceeding $500 000 should cede at least 51% shareholding to indigenous Zimbabweans.

But Mpofu said yesterday: “Why don’t you talk to Kasukuwere about that? I do not know anything.”

Pressed to clarify who had the authority to cancel mining companies’ operating licences, Mpofu said: “I will not comment on something I do not know about. I did not make the announcement. Why don’t you ask the one who gave the initial announcement? I think they are better placed to clarify that.”

Yesterday Kasukuwere was switching off his phone each time NewsDay asked for clarification on the issue of cancellation of mining licences.

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

Kasukuwere told journalists: “We have in many instances tried to engage them (Zimplats) on a win-win situation. As government, as the ministry, we have reached the end of the road. We have cancelled the operating licence for Zimplats.”

The minister said Zimplats refused to negotiate with government besides the fact that the company was given the $4,8 billion resource for free and was making $200 million profit annually.

“In regard to Zimplats, it’s arrogance all the way,” he said.

Zimplats is 87% controlled by South Africa-based Impala Platinum Holdings.

Kasukuwere said as regards Mimosa Mine, they met with government on Tuesday and expected positive results.

“We are not very angry with Mimosa. I am sure we will be able to come up with a win-win situation,” he said.

Kasukuwere was yesterday expected to meet Finance minister Tendai Biti to conclude the thresholds for the banking sector.