Zimbabwe plans to complete the transfer of majority stakes in foreign-owned mining companies to local black investors by the end of May, an official said.
To date, 260 companies had submitted transfer plans to the government, with 69 approved, 14 rejected and 177 still pending, Zwelibanzi Lunga, general manager for compliance at the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board, said in an interview yesterday in the capital, Harare.
“The majority of the companies in the mining sector who are fully complying are Chinese and Asian companies,” he said. “The government will invoke penalty provisions such as cancellation of operating licences if companies don’t comply,” he said.
Zimbabwe, which with South Africa holds more than three-quarters of the world’s platinum, published a law two years ago that compels foreign-owned companies to cede or sell 51% of their shares to black nationals or State-approved agencies.
Impala Platinum Holdings , the world’s second-largest producer of the metal, in March agreed in principle to sell 31% of its Zimplats unit to a State agency and 20% to employees and communities. Impala owns 87% of Zimplats.
Aquarius Platinum, which owned Mimosa platinum mine with Impala, in March submitted a proposal to hand control of the operation to Zimbabwe, which accepted the plan.
Lunga refused to disclose the names of the companies that have complied, citing confidentiality. He said 15 companies had been given approval for community share ownership trusts and employee share ownership plans, which result in mining firms ceding 10% each to local communities and employees.
The empowerment board expects foreign companies in the manufacturing industry to transfer majority stakes to locals by September next year, Lunga said. Of the 256 manufacturing firms that have applied, 128 have been approved, 125 are pending and three have been declined, he said.
British American Tobacco Zimbabwe Holdings and Pretoria Portland Cement Co’s unit in the Southern African country complied with equity laws that seek to give a majority shareholding to locals, Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere said on April 27.