Harare, February 22, 2014- Economic empowerment does not only apply to foreign-owned companies, but also to local firms willing to partner Government in various sectors of the economy, President Mugabe has said.
In an interview to mark his 90th birthday aired on ZBCTV on Thursday night, President Mugabe said local companies could form consortiums to work with the State on a 50-50 shareholding basis.
The President said such arrangements enabled the country to retain its wealth, most of which was being shipped out by foreign companies.
“A greater part of it (empowerment) must be that which applies to our people and our people alone without outsiders, so 50 percent to the State, 50 percent to our Zimbabwean group of miners who have put themselves together,” he said. “Now the wealth remains in the country. That way, companies can be formed that will get 100 percent.
“(Creating) Zimbabwean companies … that is empowerment – the better part of empowerment than the one that just seeks 51 percent from existing companies.”
Zimbabweans, President Mugabe said, were well-educated and could run the economy. Locals would then partner foreigners for technology and equipment.
“Must we always depend on outsiders to come and do the mining?” he asked. “After all, at the end of the day it is just their technology. The persons they use are our own sons and daughters because we have trained them – engineers, technicians, professionals of various kinds, but we can also hire equipment in the same way.”
In mining, President Mugabe said it was important to form joint ventures considering the amount of capital required.
“They want single proprietorships and so on,” he said. “So, I can remain so and so alone, Chimuti and wife, well and good it is not bad to have those kinds of single partnerships, but it is better to have joint partnerships, companies of Zimbabwean people alone, especially when it comes to mining our resources, depleting resources.
“Other things you know, ICT, manufacturing and so on, ya, you can, because raw materials sometimes come from outside, but it depends entirely on what the basis of that manufacturing is.”
President Mugabe said any foreigner seeking business in Zimbabwe would come in as an investment partner and not the owner of local resources.
He said the 51/49 percent shareholding threshold was just a starting point and Government could go as high as 60/40 percent in favour of locals.
“The resources that we have in Zimbabwe belong to us,” he said. “Anyone who wants to have a share of them, well, yes, on a joint basis they must not get the majority of shareholding and therefore they must not get the larger share.
“The larger share should be that of our country and we have limited ourselves to 51 percent, in fact, for now. We have said at least 51 percent must belong to us.
“At least people interpreted that generally to mean that we are to remain at 51 percent. No. In some cases we must go to 60, 70 percent depending on the negotiations, but we have said 51/49 in majority of cases and 49 percent is a hell lot of wealth.
“Just imagine if you get a billion of dollars from your mining wealth, 51 percent is yours, 49 percent of a billion dollars goes out.
“And that is why we have said indigenisation and empowerment do not mean we should just apply it to the companies that exist. No.”
Several African countries have seen governments owning a stake in mining ventures.
In Namibia, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, rare-earth minerals and uranium have been declared strategic minerals and government participates in their mining through the State-owned Epangelo Mining Company.
The Botswana government has significant shareholding in mining companies like Debswana, Botash, BCL, Diamond Trading Company and Morupule.
Guinea and the DRC are also implementing resource nationalism-based policies.
President Mugabe said the country still had a lot of mineral wealth – such as iron ore in Hwedza – that were yet to be explored.
“We never did anything even by way of exploring mhangura kuHwedza ndiko kwaitorwa mhangura nevakuru kudhara,” he said.
“I say this because it was when mwana waDr Sam Nujuma of Namibia came here with an Indian friend and another one wanting to be given an opportunity to do some mining and we asked what mining would you want and they said iron. Where, they said in a place called Hwedza area and they produced a map.
“This has been done long ago, I think by De Beers showing where parts with iron with sulphur, iron that is purer than this which has a bit of sulphur. And then I said but why settlers never mentioned Hwedza to us and why did it not occur to us also mhangura vakuru vainotora kuHwedza.“So, map dziripo kuDe Beers. Where did they get this? Kuarchives kuCape Town University and so there you are.”