By Peta Thornycroft, Harare
Zimbabwe’s regime has promised to open a new and racially exclusive stock exchange, allowing blacks alone to trade shares seized from foreign companies.
The plan to grab mining companies, most of which are South African-owned, follows President Robert Mugabe’s landslide re-election last week.
Saviour Kasukawere, the ‘indigenisation’ minister, said on Tuesday that the government or black Zimbabweans would take 51 per cent of the shares in all major foreign-owned companies, valued at about £4.8 billion. No compensation will be paid.
The regime wants to control mining companies and in particular Zimplats, a major platinum producer which is largely owned by South Africa’s Impala Platinum Holdings.
Mr Kasukawere said that mining companies which do not “cede” 51 per cent of their shares to black Zimbabweans or the state would risk losing their operating licenses.
He said the value of the natural resources or underground metals extracted by the companies were sufficient to pay for majority shareholdings.
“When it comes to natural resources, Zimbabwe will not pay for her resources,” said Mr Kasukuwere in an interview with Bloomberg, a news agency.
Psychology Maziwisa, spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party, confirmed that Mr Kasukawere’s remarks were official policy. “All of this is correct. Its what we told voters we will do,” he said.
John Robertson, an independent economist in Harare, said: “There is no logic in that plan. He is in danger of introducing economic apartheid which is absurd.”
Mr Robertson added: “I think this is only politicking and there is no substance to this.”
Metals and minerals, including platinum and gold, accounted for 71 per cent, or £480 million, of Zimbabwe’s total exports last year.
South Africa has a bilateral trade and protection agreement with Zimbabwe. If the regime presses ahead and seizes a controlling stake in South African mining companies, they could use these agreements to secure compensation or the return of assets via international courts.
Whether Mr Mugabe’s regime would respect any such rulings is another question.
Mr Mugabe seized almost all of Zimbabwe’s white-owned farms, often in defiance of court orders, and without compensation.