ZIMBABWE will not nationalise foreign mining companies that have yet to comply with a law requiring them to cede a 51 percent stake to locals, the economic planning minister said Friday.
"It is not a cabinet position to expropriate or nationalise companies," Tapiwa Mashakada told a news conference in Harare, only one day after a rival minister insisted the government could take such action.
"That is null and void, that is not a collective position of cabinet. These are the investors we must look after, they must be given time to comply and not just hurry them up," Mashakada said.
The issue is highly sensitive and officials have taken contradictory positions, confusing the outlook for a key sector of the economy.
Long-ruling President Robert Mugabe has threatened to nationalise foreign firms that do not comply with the regulations while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his rival in a three-year-old unity government, has said the law hurts investment and job creation.
Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, a Mugabe ally, on Thursday said the government was taking over mines that have not met the requirement but then backtracked to say that this was only meant to encourage them to comply with the law.
Mashakada, a Tsvangirai ally, insisted Friday that foreign investors were safe.
"I want to assure all the companies who have invested in Zimbabwe and who are to invest in Zimbabwe that the government will not expropriate or nationalise their assets," Mashakada said.
The largest foreign miners in Zimbabwe have already reached deals with the government.
These include Unki, owned by the world's largest platinum producer Anglo American, and Zimplats, the local unit of number two producer Impala Platinum.