A decree by Zimbabwe's government that foreign mining companies must submit plans for turning over majority control of their operations to locals has divided top officials into supporters and opponents.

The Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Ministry of Zimbabwe, which has the world's second-largest platinum reserves, sent letters on Aug. 17 to top mining companies rejecting their plans and giving them 14 days to submit acceptable plans.

Mining company executives are currently in talks with the ministry, run by Saviour Kasukuwere, perceived to be a close ally of President Robert Mugabe.

Companies talking with the government include Impala Platinum (Implats), the world's second-largest platinum producer, Aquarius Platinum, officials at Rio Tinto's diamond mine Murowa and also Canada-based Caledonia Mining.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai warned in 2008 when the Indigneisation and Economic Empowerment Act was passed that it would hurt the nation economically. The law gives foreign nations five years to turn over majority control of their operations to Zimbabweans.

Recently, central bank governor Gideon Gono, another Mugabe ally, publicly rebuked Kasukuwere for recklessly creating panic by the way he was implementing the law. Kasukuwere's allies are striking back.

Meanwhile, on Monday Kasukuwere warned on Facebook that the mining industry is regrouping yet that will not deter us even a bit. The fight will overshadow the land reform program as this one is much more sophisticated and is about serious wealth.

 

I