Mugabe allies look to seize foreign mines

Zimbabwe's Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere speaks on January 11, 2013, in Harare.  By Jekesai Njikizana (AFP/File)

Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere speaks on January 11, 2013, in Harare. By Jekesai Njikizana (AFP/File)

HARARE (AFP) – Zimbabwe plans to seize majority stakes in foreign-owned mines without paying compensation in a pre-election move that could heighten tension in the unity government and spook investors, a document showed on Tuesday.

A notice issued by the Indigenisation Ministry headed by Saviour Kasukuwere, a member of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, said the “ministry and the government of Zimbabwe would like to revise materially, the policy and law on indigenisation and empowerment.”

“The motivation for this position arises out of the desire to see that the people of Zimbabwe benefit fully, without cost whatsoever, from enterprises that exploit their God-given natural resources.”

The current mandatory black ownership policy, passed in 2007 demands that 51 percent of shares in foreign owned companies be ceded to locals.

The latest proposals are likely to raise tensions between Mugabe’s party and the Movement of Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — the two parties in the uncomfortable power sharing government.

MDC’s Tongai Matutu, who is also deputy to Kasukuwere, described the plans as “outrageous”.

“These proposals should not find themselves in our statutes,” said Matutu.

He said chances of parliament passing the proposed amendments were slim as ZANU-PF has no parliamentary majority.

“I would not expect any MP (member of parliament) worth his salt to endorse these proposals. They are completely outrageous.”

The new plans come ahead of crucial elections to end the power sharing government. In December last year Mugabe told his party conference that the black ownership rate of 51 percent should be upped to 100 percent.

Government has already started implementing the controversial indigenisation law so far targeting a platinum mine and banks. It argues that the policy would reverse imbalances created during colonial rule.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai has been opposed to the indigenisation regulations which he says scare away desperately needed foreign investment.

The plans by ZANU-PF are seen a campaign tool ahead of polls later this year whose date is not yet known.