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Army backs Kasukuwere

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DEFENCE minister Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said the army is backing Zanu PF’s controversial empowerment programme being spearheaded by Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

REPORT BY BERNARD MPOFU CHIEF BUSINESS REPORTER

Addressing delegates at the signing ceremony of the terms of agreement for an empowerment plan between platinum miner Mimosa Mining Company and government, a tough-talking Mnangagwa pledged to support the policy which compels foreign-owned companies to cede 51% of their shareholding to locals.

Mimosa is a joint venture between Australia Stock Exchange-listed Aquarius Platinum and Impala Platinum of South Africa.

Mnangagwa’s remarks come barely a week after his Zanu PF party resolved to step up the empowerment crusade ahead of watershed elections slated for next year.

“You may be wondering what the Minister of Defence is doing here,” he said.

“Firstly, I hail from Zvishavane and those who doubt Cde Kasukuwere now know that the army is behind him.

“If there are any people who doubt that the time will come to review the (indigenisation and empowerment) policy, the answer is no!

“The best thing is to join them if you can’t beat them.

“If an investor is not comfortable with our policy, we will assure them that our platinum will not be rotten over the years.

“It will stay under the ground until we find the right technology . . .

“The purpose of an investor is to make profit, not loot . . . I say things as they are because of my background.
“I try to be diplomatic, but it’s difficult.”

Under the agreed empowerment plan, Mimosa will relinquish 31% to the National Indigenisation and Economic Fund, and 10% apiece to the Zvishavane Community Share Ownership Scheme and an employee share ownership scheme.

Speaking at the same function, Kasukuwere tried to allay investor fears although he warned that government would rein in on non-compliant firms.

“The process that we have started will not be chaotic,” he said.

“There is no reason to employ a strategy that is barbaric. The law is there and it should be followed.

“However, it doesn’t mean that we will send roses to companies that do not follow the law. We do not grow roses.”

The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T, a partner in the country’s shaky coalition government, criticises the modus operandi of the empowerment programme, arguing that the policy will scare away investment.

There are indications that the military wants to play a prominent role in Zanu PF’s election campaign.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga has reportedly dangled $2 000 a month to war veterans to join Zanu PF’s campaign.

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