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Zimplats appeals to government

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President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai should stop their party officials from making “habitual utterances” that put the economic recovery of the country in danger, a top businessman has said.

Speaking at an open forum hosted by Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of NewsDay, The Independent and Standard yesterday, Zimplats vice-chairperson Muchadeyi Masunda said periods leading to elections were characterised by unfortunate remarks from politicians.

Masunda took aim at Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere saying: “Youthful Saviour and other likeminded politicians should stop playing to the gallery and focus on the real deal on the ground.

“Mugabe and Tsvangirai should rein in their mavericks who make habitual utterances that put the recovery of this country in danger,” he said.

Zimplats, which is by far the biggest of the platinum producing firms, has been a subject of several varied threats by many government ministers and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

The government has on numerous occasions threatened to cancel its operating licence accusing the mining firm of failing to comply with requirements of the indigenisation law.

A fortnight ago RBZ governor Gideon Gono gave Zimplats a 24-hour ultimatum to comply with a directive compelling mining companies to bank locally or face closure.

The central bank chief threatened to freeze the company’s local account, whose balance he said, was being channelled offshore in violation of a new RBZ directive. Masunda said gone were the days when investments were conducted by wealthy families and to a certain extent, influenced by sentiment.

“Gone are the days when you had families with money coming out of their ears making investment decisions. They now utilise fund managers. Capital is a timid animal. They (fund managers) have no sentiment,” he said.

Turning to the issue of beneficiation, which the government is currently pushing for, Masunda said this could only take place when critical mass was mobilised. He said there was scope in all stakeholders that had interest in platinum mining including Unki, Mimosa and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, to pool their resources together to set up base and precious metal refineries.

“The problem is capacity to mobilise money needed for the investment. We want to do beneficiation,” Masunda said.

“All the necessary ingredients have to be in place. We don’t want to end up with a white elephant.”
He said it was crucial for the country to have a clear, certain, predictable, consistent and sustainable policy framework in order to unlock economic growth.

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