Zimbabwe's troubled governmenthas began the process of parcelling out majority shareholding stakes fromforeign owned companies  to its black citizens under the country'scontroversial and highly criticised Economic Indigenization and Empowerment Act.

The country'sminister of Economic Indigenization and Empowerment, Paul Mangwana said hisministry had begun accepting applications and proposals from black Zimbabweanswishing to get stakes in foreign owned companies.

Last week, theEmpowerment ministry invited black Zimbabweans to submit their proposals andapplications for consideration by the ministry in its bid to economicallyempower the country's populace.

As recently reportedby Mineweb, the EconomicIndigenization and Empowerment Act came into effect and was promulgated as anenforceable Zimbabwean law in March this year and seeks to compel all foreignowned companies including those in the mining sector such as Anglo Platinum,Zimplats etc. to cede shareholding stakes amounting to 51 percent.

Mangwana, a highranking official of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party which was defeatedby the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the parliamentaryelection held in March, said the transactions to transfer shares would beundertaken between the targeted companies and the potential investors andinvestment groups.

No shares would begiven for free as investors would have to agree on a price of the shares withthe concerned companies, he said.

The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government, which has resorted to thehyper-inflationary option of minting valueless currency notes to finance itspolicies and undertakings, has set up an indigenization fund to pool resourcesand funding.

Zimbabwe, previously home to many miningcompanies, is battling to retain her remaining mining sector investors at atime when several of the existing operators have halted further expansionaryand exploratory work.

Contacted for comment,Zimbabwe's chamber of mines president, JackMurehwa said: No changes as yet save to confirm that the environment withinwhich we operate continues to be difficult.

The country's Minesand Minerals Bill, which many had hoped would bring some new hope remainsfrozen for now following the dissolution of Zimbabwe's parliament two months ago.With a second round of voting between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai ofthe MDC yet to be held, hope for the reintroduction of the bill has all butdied down.

It will be up to thenew Minister to progress from where the process stopped before parliament wasdissolved, said Murehwa in reference to the Mines and Minerals Bill.

Local legal expertssay the new minister may decide to start the process from scratch or continuefrom where the process stopped by reintroducing the Bill to parliament or hemay simply ignore the draft legislation.
In the meantime, players in Zimbabwe's mining sector can only waitaccording to the chamber of mines