Anglo Platinum responds to Roy Bennett

Anglo Platinum which owns Unki Mine in Shurugwi, the newest entry into the lucrative platinum mining industry in Zimbabwe, says it supports the country’s indigenisation programme but does not believe that the 51 percent currently being proposed is “necessarily optimal”.

Responding to a statement by Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett that mining companies should not go to bed with the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front because they could lose their investment when the MDC comes to power, Anglo Platinum said it was committed to bringing Unki Mine into steady state production by 2013.

“The responsible development of the mine will create a long-term viable business that will be important to the economic future of Zimbabwe for years to come. The company recognises the need for black economic empowerment and sustainable economic transformation in Zimbabwe,” the company said in a statement.

“Anglo Platinum is proud of the contribution it has made to empowerment in South Africa, through numerous transactions it facilitated, and is confident it will be in a strong position to meet the eventual requirements to be established in Zimbabwe. The company supports indigenisation but does not believe the 51% currently being proposed is necessarily optimal.” 

The company is right that 51 percent required under the Indigenisation Act is not optimal. President Robert Mugabe has said that the government is flexible on indigenisation and accepts empowerment credits.

The indigenisation regulations themselves clearly state so. “These regulations are framed with the general objective that every business of or above the prescribed value threshold must¾within the next five years from the date of operation of these regulations, or within five years from the commencement of the business concerned, as the case may be, cede a controlling interest of not less than fifty-one per centum of the shares or interests therein to indigenous Zimbabweans; unless, in order to achieve other socially or economically desirable objectives, a lesser share of indigenisation or a longer period within which to achieve it is justified,” the regulations state.

Mining companies have been given 45 days, up to May 9, to draw up plans on how they will implement indigenisation. They have up to September to do so. While the threshold for other businesses that should dispose of their shareholding is US$500 000, that for mining companies is US$1.

Addressing a business investment conference in Cape Town, South African, last month Bennett said there was need for reflection by the major mining companies that were investing or expanding their operations in Zimbabwe.

“Some of these institutions must come to terms with their unacceptable complicity in Mugabe’s blackmail,” Bennett said. “There is no excuse for Anglo Platinum to have ceded a huge chunk of its ground just before the 2008 elections- ground that was quickly sold by a desperate and cash-poor ZANU-PF at a $100 million profit.”

“Shareholders need to demand from management that these rights be properly valued and retained –and not surrendered for the benefit of a blood-thirsty coterie of gangsters. Face the regime or force them into open and into outright theft. Please don’t legitimise extortion at the expense of the people.

“Better to lose what you have and regain it later than to sleep with a serial rapist and killer. If you do so, remember that he will not only beat and murder the neighbours, he will turn on you in due course and you will be pitied by no one. You cannot squeal if you have been playing along,” Bennett said.

Anglo Platinum said Unki Mine was a long term investment and it had engaged the Unity Government together with its partners in the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe regarding the development of the mining industry.

“Anglo Platinum is committed to the Unki mining project, the 900 employees, contractors and others who depend directly and indirectly on the project; including local communities. We welcome the continued engagement with the government regarding further development and the clarity on mining laws and regulations proposed by the coalition government and are monitoring the situation closely,” the company said.

Bennett’s speech in full.

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