“leave the country now” if you’re against black empowerment: Mugabe”.
HARARE — President Mugabe yesterday launched the Tongogara Community Share Ownership Trust at Unki Mine and told foreign-owned firms resisting Government’s black empowerment drive to “leave the country now”.
The Tongogara Trust becomes the second such scheme following the launch of the Che-gutu-Mhondoro-Ngezi-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust last month.
Anglo American Corporation-owned Unki Mine is the second largest platinum mining firm in the country after Zimplats.
It offered 10 percent of its shares to the community yesterday and donated US$10 million to Tongogara Development Trust.
Chiefs Nhema, Ndanga and Banga signed the share ownership trust on behalf of their communities.
Under indigenisation and economic empowerment regulations, foreign-owned companies are expected to cede 51 percent stake to indigenous people.
Some firms are, however, not keen to implement the regulations in the belief that there may be a change of Government.
MDC-T is opposed to black economic empowerment.
Addressing hundreds of villagers who convened at Unki Mine to witness the signing of the share ownership trust, the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said companies not comfortable with the policy could as well leave the country.
“This (black economic empowerment) is our policy. We do not hide it. We want empowerment for our people. Vanenge vasingade, we say go now, if not yesterday.”
President Mugabe said the time to persuade foreign firms to embrace the policy was over.
He said some firms were threatening to shut down to force Government not to implement the regulations.
The President made it clear that Zimbabweans are experienced enough and ready to take over such firms.
“If it is a matter of technology. We can always import or get other friendly partners. Ndozvatinoita. We have adopted the Look East Policy. I have just returned from China
and we were talking about our co-operation,” President Mugabe said.
He said Government’s empowerment drive had been misunderstood in some quarters.
“We have been misunderstood, but what country will allow its resources to fall into the hands of outsiders. We will be absolute idiots to say pamberi neZimbabwe hupfumi huri mumaoko evarungu. Vanotiti tirimafuza.”
“That now must come to an end. The wealth must now be exploited in the interest of our people. Consumers of our wealth must by and large be our people.”
President Mugabe expressed gratitude and appreciation to Unki Mine for accepting Government’s empowerment policy and pledged “to work smoothly” with the company that only started operations in January this year.
He said one of the major goals of the liberation war, after the land reform, was to economically empower indigenous people.
“Ngatichitorai nhanho yokubva pakuvashandira nekuvapakurira tozvipakurira. Hatichabika mapoto nevarungu. Now is the time to turn our working force from being employees to employers. It is coming and the 51 percent shareholding is the first stage . . . gradually, we will get into companies,” President Mugabe said.
Earlier, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere had bemoaned the use of delaying tactics by some foreign companies that were yet to embrace indigenisation.
“There are some companies that are trying to resist the programme through delay tactics. Some think things will change. Nothing will change. The Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment regulation is here to stay. There are no exemptions. It is not a matter of choice. I therefore will like to remind eligible businesses to comply with the law,” he said.
The Minister thanked Unki Mine for complying with the policy.
Unki Mine chairman, Mr July Ndlovu, said the signing of the Tongogara Community Share Ownership Trust, which coincided with the bombing of the Zanla Chimoi base 34 years ago (November 23 1976), marked the beginning of co-operation between Anglo-American and the people of Shurugwi.
“Our journey begins in earnest with the 10 percent share ownership transaction. As part of the transaction, we donate US$10 million to the Tongogara Development Trust upfront,” he said.
Midlands Governor and Resident Minister Jason Machaya said the Tongogara Community Share Ownership Trust would change the face of Shurugwi.
“Shurugwi will never be the same again. The resources will be used to develop Shurugwi,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu, has issued an ultimatum to platinum mining companies to build a refinery in the country.
“I have been persuading them to set up a refinery but I will soon be tired of persuading them and I will issue a directive to them. It is my desire that within two years we should have set up our own refinery here,” he said.
Minister Mpofu said it was intriguing that Zimbabwe had no platinum refinery with miners saying it was not feasible to have one.
The country’s platinum is refined in South Africa.
“Invest in a refinery before this can be legislated,” he said.
During the ceremony, President Mugabe donated 1 040 computers to schools in the Midlands Province.