By Alex Bell
7 March 2013
Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has appeared to backtrack on a recently concluded deal with mining giant Impala Platinum (Implats), by saying the Zimbabwean government will not pay the firm for more than half of its Zimplats unit.
The ZANU PF leader was speaking to the Bloomberg news service in the wake of comments by party leader Robert Mugabe, who said Kasukuwere made a mistake in originally agreeing with Implats that Zimbabwe would pay for its shares.
Under that agreement (finalised in January), the company will transfer 20% of Zimplats shares to employee and community trusts and 31% to a state-run National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund. Implats agreed to sell this majority stake for $971 million, by loaning Zimbabwe the money that would be paid back with interest.
But Mugabe told the state media last week: “That is the problem, they gave us 51 per cent saying that it is a loan that we are giving you, and we are paying for you in advance and then you can pay us back tomorrow.”
He added: “I think that is where our minister made a mistake. He did not quite understand what was happening, and yet our theory is that the resource is ours and that resource is our share, that is where the 51 per cent comes from.”
Kasukuwere has now said that Mugabe’s position is the correct one, and Implats needs to take the President’s comments into account.
“They (Implats) know what the President said and they have to do that,” Kasukuwere was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Last week Zimplats was given 30 days to object to the government’s intentions to ‘acquire’ more than half of its land, in what some analysts have said is a ‘retaliatory’ move.
There has still been no official comment from Zimplats about the situation.