Monday, April 02, 2012
Standing firm ... Saviour Kasukuwere and President Robert Mugabe
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
A CABINET minister has insisted that Zimbabwe will not pay for the 31 percent stake in platinum miner Zimplats which is set to be transferred to locals under the country’s economic empowerment programme.
South Africa-based Impala Platinum, the world's second largest platinum producer and the biggest foreign investor in the country, last month bowed to Zimbabwe's pressure to surrender a 51 percent stake in its Zimplats unit, a cave-in that followed months of wrangling.
Under the deal 31 percent is nominally earmarked to go to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund, a further 10 percent will go to local communities and 10 percent to Zimplats employees.
However, Implats says the Zimbabwe must pay cash for the 31 percent stake, which at current market value would be worth about US$350 million.
Implats also says its stock is presently undervalued and reckons the government may have to pay up to US$500 million for the shareholding.
"If they don't come up with the cash the stake will not be transferred," Implats chief executive David Brown said in a recent interview.
But Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere said Zimbabwe would not pay for its natural resources.
“The fact of the matter is we are taking our resources and there is no need for us to concentrate on the trivial,” Kasukuwere told the Sunday Mail.
“What Brown said or did not say does not change what we are doing here, which is taking our resources for the benefit of the majority.”
Still, Brown said if Zimbabwe refuses to pay his company could seek protection from the South African government under the investment protection agreement between the two countries.
“We have been having conversations with the South African government on this because, obviously, they have a keen interest in what is happening,” he said.
“The treaty covers fair compensation and, obviously, if there was no fair compensation, then we would have alternative processes that we could explore.”
Implats also expects the government to pay another US$158 million for mineral reserves released to the government under a prior agreement.
The stand-off over Zimplats ownership may imperil at least $1 billion in expansion projects at the company as well as plans by Implats to set up a metals refinery in the country.