Mugabe Receives Election Boost as the Country’s Largest Platinum Miner is Indigenised

Zimplats employees during a recent strike

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s elections machinery might just have received the tonic it needed, as a major mining company capitulated to the country’s indigenisation policy.

The world’s second largest platinum mining company, Impala Platinum mines, finally bowed to pressure from the Zimbabwean government and agreed to cede 51 per cent of its shareholding in its subsidiary, Zimplats, to locals.

Mugabe launched his 2002 presidential election on land reform, forcing out hundreds of white farmers and replacing them with zimbabweans. Now parallels are being drawn with the latest election campaign, which is based on an indigenisation platform, where foreign firms are being forced to cede a majority of their shareholdings.

Zimplats had resisted the policy, but the capitulation, commentators said, will go a long way in boosting Mugabe’s election campaign.

The mining company’s decision to give in to indigenisation demands is likely to send shivers down the spines of other foreign companies that had been resisting the directive.

Early this week, New Dawn Mining Corporation, headquartered in Canada, told its shareholders that “it is currently unable to predict the effect of an inability to arrive at or implement the indigenisation plan that is acceptable to all parties involved in the process”.

It said due to substantial uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the indigenisation policy in Zimbabwe there can be no assurances that it would be successful in its efforts to comply with the Indigenisation laws and regulations under commercially viable terms and conditions, or at all.

Zimplats has come in for criticism for resisting local laws and fro attempting to circumvent economic empowerment of Zimbabweans, however in the end it was simply a matter of respecting the law or lose its lucrative footing in Zimbabwe.

Some analysts claim Indigenisation Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere is the major beneficiary as his political star just brightened. “He is Zanu PF man of the moment. Kasukuwere was tasked with winning elections for President Mugabe and Zanu PF using the indigenisation drive and the takeover of mining companies” said Monica Chipinza, a political analyst. “He has delivered part of it this week with the Zimplats take over”.

On Kasukuwere’s ‘victory’ Chipunza said “Kasukuwere is known to harbour ambitions for higher office but only time will tell whether Mugabe will return the favour.”

In a country where a political career is hugely depended on a politicians ability to deliver, Kasukuwere’s career is surely on the rise.

Kasukuwere has long cast himself as a champion of the poor and a vehement opponent of western imperialism, who is bent on ensuring that Zimbabweans controls the country’s mineral and economic resources.