Canadian Mining Firm Scoffs At Black Empowerment in Zimbabwe

Entrance to Caledonia mine

Caledonia Mining Corporation has scoffed at Government of Zimbabwe’s economic empowerment drive, branding indigenisation regulations a political gimmick to lure votes for Zanu-PF.

The Canadian firm’s remarks come at a time when President Mugabe has told foreign companies that are not comfortable with the black empowerment drive to leave the country.

The Toronto and London-listed gold mining company which owns Blanket Mine in Gwanda was this week quoted by Mining Weekly as vowing not to cede 51 percent stake as prescribed by law.

Caledonia chief executive officer Mr Stefan Hayden said his company did not intend to finalise a sale of its shares to locals until the run-up to elections.

Mr Hayden said the policy was “a political football game at the moment”.

“If Zanu-PF plays the indigenisation card now, then, come the elections, there is nothing left to play,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr Hayden said negotiations on his company’s indigenisation plan “will continue until before the elections”.

Zanu-PF yesterday advised the firm to comply with the law, saying the indigenisation programme was unstoppable.

“All companies are expected to comply with the indigenisation law. We are not politicking.

“We are empowering our people and this has been demonstrated by the Chegutu-Mhondoro-Ngezi-Zvimba and Unki Mine Community Share Ownership Trusts,” said Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu refused to comment on thematter yesterday, referring all questions to Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

Caledonia has always been on a collision course with Government.

Its mining licence was briefly cancelled mid this year after the company failed to submit an acceptable indigenisation plan.

Mr Hayden flew into the country following the cancellation of the licence and engaged Minister Kasukuwere.

Government lifted the cancellation after the firm pledged to provide a revised economic empowerment plan compliant with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

Launching the Tongogara Community Share Ownership Trust at Anglo-American Corporation-owned Unki Mine recently, President Mugabe said of defiant companies: “This (black economic empowerment) is our policy. We do not hide it. We want empowerment for our people. Vanenge vasingade, we say go now, if not yesterday.”