HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is happy with a plan proposed by Anglo American Platinum (AMSJ.J), the world’s top producer of the precious metal, to sell a 51 percent shareholding in its Unki project to locals in terms of the country’s empowerment law, a minister said on Sunday.
President Robert Mugabe is championing the law, which requires all foreign firms, including mines and banks, to sell majority stakes to Zimbabweans.
Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, a Mugabe ally, wrote in the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper that Amplats had submitted its proposals, detailing how it sought to comply with the law.
“As implementers, the latest plan by Anglo Platinum Unki, is reflective of the positive co-operation we are now enjoying,” Kasukuwere wrote. “We are happy with the 51 percent plan presented by July Ndlovu, the Unki chairman.”
On Thursday, Kasukuwere increased pressure on miners when he issued a statement declaring that the state now owned 51 percent of firms that had not complied with the local ownership laws.
His statement was, however, quickly contradicted by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s partner in a shaky coalition, who said the minister had no power to expropriate mines.
The empowerment crusade is widely seen as a tactic by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party to raise cash for elections that may come this year.
In his letter, Kasukuwere, a senior ZANU-PF official, also sought to highlight his party’s difference with Tsvangirai’s MDC over the empowerment policy.
Johannesburg-listed Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J), the world’s second-biggest platinum producer, bowed to pressure last month to surrender half its Zimplats (ZIM.AX) unit, although details of the transfer have not yet been worked out.
Reporting by Nelson Banya, editing by Sherilee Lakmidas and Ron Popeski