By Gary Hlatshwayo
Gwanda, October 9, 2013 – President Robert Mugabe’s new government has intensified its forced company seizures after issuing an ultimatum to take control of Vumbachikwe Gold Mine in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province following the miner’s alleged reluctance to comply with the country’s indigenisation and economic empowerment legislation.
Under the controversial and widely condemned legislation, foreign owned enterprises are compelled to surrender 51 percent shareholding in any foreign owned enterprise to indigenous Zimbabweans.
The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) recently issued a 21-day ultimatum to Vumbachikwe Gold Mine, one of the country’s oldest gold mines to comply with the Indigenisation Act.
In a letter dated 25 September 2013 addressed to the mine director only identified as E.M Smithwick, NIEEB chief executive officer Wilson Gwatiringa gave Vumbachikwe Gold Mine three weeks to submit its final indigenisation plan. The ultimatum for one of Zimbabwe’s biggest gold mines expires on the 16th of October 2013.
“We note that you have not submitted a consolidated and final indigenisation and implementation plan. In the interest of finalising your compliance process, you are kindly advised to submit the aforesaid in favour of the indigenous Zimbabweans,” reads part of the letter seen by Radio VOP.
The mining company has been resisting to cede 10 percent of its shares to the community under the Community Share ownership Scheme/Trust (CSOS/T) arguing that all its shareholders are indigenous Zimbabweans.
However, last year government expressed its impatience with Vumbachikwe Gold Mine with the former Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere saying government was fed with trying to negotiate with a mine made of white Zimbabweans who seem to think they are still operating in Rhodesia.
Minister of State for Matabeleland South provincial affairs, Abedinico Ncube recently warned the mine’s management that they will lose their enterprise if they remain defiant.
“Vumbachikwe is not a sacred cow, as long as you are in this country you will have to comply or you lose your mine, there is nothing special about Vumbachikwe mine,” said Ncube.
If the government proceeds to implement the threat to seize the mine, the seizure of Vumbachikwe Gold Mine will be the first such incident since President Mugabe issued threats to grab mines that fail to comply with the country’s loathed indigenisation legislation.