B>Having destroyed the region’s most diverse and professional – not to mentioned lucrative – agricultural industry, it appears the Zanu government is now hell bent on destroyed the mining sector.
By insisting on owning 51% of the shares in foreign-owned mining companies – without paying for them – the government has effectively nationalised the lucrative mining industry and put paid to any future foreign investment – not only in mining but in the entire economy.
As Chamber of Mines President Jack Murehwa has emphasised: mining is a very capital-intensive industry. The industry requires mammoth capital outlays in exploration activities and equity stakes.
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The government pronouncement typically lacks practical information as to just how the takeover will be effected. Statements by minister of mines Amos Midzi, Mugabe himself and ministry officials are shrouded in confusion and lack even basic details of how the new arrangement will operate.
Who will run the mines? As the major shareholder, what will government’s role be? What are the mechanics of the system?
The word ‘indigenisation’ has been bandied about in connection with the new move. Experience has taught us that this means many different things to different people. So far the government’s definition has meant rewarding the small handful of party cronies with jobs, contracts and money – irrespective of their capability or capacity.
Whenever it comes to indigenisation, the same people seem to be involved over and over again. The circle never seems to widen to include ordinary Zimbabweans.
And what about the rightful owners? They invested their money in our country in good faith. They created employment, build roads and houses, provided medical and educational facilities to their staff, and so on. Agreements guaranteeing their investments were signed by government officials. They paid their taxes and did their business.
Those agreements have now, effectively, been torn up and thrown to the wind. What message does this send? Zimbabweans are not to be trusted. Signed agreements mean nothing to them.
And what does President Thabo Mbeki say to all this? Nothing, so far. South African companies dominate the mining sector in