Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has read the riot act to foreign-owned firms that are refusing to comply with Zimbabwe’s indigenisation and empowerment laws, saying the door for negotiations has been closed.
Speaking at the launch of the Zvishavane Community Share Trust at Mimosa Platinum Mine yesterday, the President directed Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere to urgently implement the programme without hesitation.
The directive follows indications that Mimosa was reluctant to cede 51 percent stake to indigenous Zimbabweans in line with the law, offering 30 percent.
But the President would have none of it.
The Zvishavane Community Share Ownership Trust becomes the third such scheme after President Mugabe launched the Chegutu-Mhondoro-Ngezi Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust at Zimplats and the Tongogara Community Share Ownership Trust at Unki Mine in Shurugwi.
“All these companies which yesterday belonged to outsiders like Implats, Zimplats and others must now be subjected to the law of indigenisation and empowerment that requires that at least 51 percent of shareholding should belong to Zimbabweans.
“That must be complied with. There is no going back on this matter. Let them be told, let the Press tell them, let the relevant ministry finally tell them to comply.”
President Mugabe added: “Hapasisina hurukuro (No more discussions). The ministry should take action. Ndanga ndichiti zvandauya kuno (Mimosa) ndinowana zvagadziriswa (I thought I would find everything in place).”
He was referring to Mimosa chief executive Mr David Brown and the company’s foreign officials who did not attend yesterday’s event.
The President hailed Mimosa for donating US$10 million to the Zvishavane Community Share Ownership Trust, but said it was not enough.
“Asika muchiri chikara chesango. Ngachive chikara chemumba (You still belong to the wilderness. We hope you will be back home). You must belong to us,” he said.
President Mugabe said the challenge before the Government was to make it possible for Zimbabweans to participate in the mainstream economy.
“It boggles the mind that while Zimbabwe is well endowed with natural resources that are of a finite nature, particularly in the mining sector, since the onset of colonialism, Zimbabweans have not benefited from the exploitation of these resources.
“Instead, they continue to be under threat not to benefit now and in the future, mainly because of the neo-colonial forces currently threatening the African continent,” he said.
President Mugabe said no meaningful income will accrue to local communities without meaningful participation in economic activities taking place in their areas.
“Consequently, communities are bound to lose confidence in themselves and continue to always look towards Government and the donor community for social, economic and infrastructure development and a general improvement in their livelihood,” he said.
The President said corporate responsibility programmes have not responded to the needs and priorities of the people.
He said such programmes have instead created and reinforced the dependency syndrome.
“Genuine empowerment begins with making own decisions as opposed to being perpetual observers or by-standers and recipients of charity acts,” he added.
President Mugabe said it was now a legal requirement that all foreign-owned mining companies dispose of at least 50 percent equity to indigenous Zimbabweans.
In principle, community share ownership trusts are allocated 10 percent shareholding.
“I note with gratitude that the Deed of Trust for Community Share Ownership Trust has been registered and Mimosa has already made a deposit of US$2 million in the trust account to enable it to commence its operations,” President Mugabe said.
Mimosa is also in the process of establishing a five percent employee share ownership scheme.
President Mugabe said such a trust results in a win-win situation for the people of Zvishavane and the country in general.
“Community and Employees Share Ownership Trusts are vehicles for broad based participation in shareholding in various businesses by our communities and the employees of the businesses.
“The proceeds from such participation by Community Share Ownership Trusts shall be used for the provision of social and economic infrastructure in line with the priorities of the communities concerned such as roads, water works, sanitation, soil conservation and the conservation and prevention of environmental degradation.
“Today’s programme is therefore a giant step towards the consolidation of my Government’s efforts to rid rural population of poverty.”
He said proceeds from the trusts shall be properly accounted for and used for projects that benefit communities.
President Mugabe said all trust accounts should be audited annually to ensure transparency and accountability.
He said partnerships between indigenous Zimbabweans and non-indigenous investors guarantee security of foreign investment.
Mimosa managing director Mr Winston Chitando expressed his company’s desire to work with the Zvishavane community in uplifting their lives through such programmes as the Community Share Ownership Trust and corporate social responsibility.
The company has engaged in various social responsibility projects covering education, health, sanitation, among others.