PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has said no new mining licences will be granted to foreign companies as the country steps up implementation of its controversial economic empowerment programme.
Mugabe told a meeting of his Zanu PF party’s Women’s League Friday that local professionals should get together to exploit the country’s mineral wealth as no new foreign companies would be licenced.
“What we should do in a much more massive way is to organise our people, put them together, our geologists, mining engineers…let them form companies so that we don’t give foreigners,” he said.
“Can’t we dig our own gold, we can borrow on the strength of the minerals.”
Under the country’s economic empowerment legislation foreign companies cannot own more than 49 percent of their Zimbabwe operations. But Mugabe said even the 49 percent was too generous.
“This 49 percent is a whole lot of money. Zvatakaita izvozvo zvakakwana ngatichiita isu zvedu tega muserefu,” he said.
Mugabe said new diamond deposits have been reported in Chimanimani, in the Eastern Manicaland province, adding the government was in the process of verifying the claims.
He however insisted that no foreign companies would be allowed to exploit the new diamond discoveries.
Some of Zimbabwe’s major mining companies, among them platinum producers such as Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki, have since been compelled to comply with the country’s empowerment legislation.
The coalition government however, remains divided over the programme with the MDC formations dismissing it as an election gimmick by Zanu PF.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party says while it supports the need to economically empower the country’s previously marginalised black majority, the model being pushed by Zanu PF would only benefit those already wealthy.
Empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere has since indicated he would now focus on the country financial services sector where he faces opposition from central bank governor, Gideon Gono.
Gono is proposing an alternative empowerment model arguing the equity-based approach currently being implemented could prove disastrous for a “sensitive” economic sector such as banking.