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waters down new mining law
firms in Zimbabwe may be allowed to retain their majority shareholding
as a reward for their contribution to the development of local communities
under amendments to proposed new legislation.
announced in March plans for a law to compel foreign firms to hand
over 51% of their equity to local investors, sparking warnings from
the mining sector that this would frighten away investment.
to proposals obtained by Agence France-Presse, the government is
to amend the draft law to give companies credits for "any investment
into social investments such as schools, scholarships, training
and on-going running costs of clinics".
fare highly in the "empowerment scorecard" will be required to shed
a smaller stake to local investors, which the government says has
been historically disadvantaged by laws that favoured huge conglomerates.
of mines, which has been leading the campaign against the initial
proposals, said it was heartened by the latest developments.
"Both the ministry
and ourselves are keen to resolve the issue of empowerment as soon
as we can," said the chamber's president, Jack Murehwa.
thrust of discussion is therefore most welcome. However we are not
yet at a point where we can release a common position."
In June, President
Robert Mugabe sought to reassure foreign mining firms over proposals
to give the state a larger ownership share, saying they would not
lead to property grabs.
"We are not
there to frighten away investors. We are not there even to take
away that which is not ours. No. We are there purely to become partners
in Zimbabwe," said Mugabe during a visit to a platinum mine in Ngezi.
Around 200 foreign
firms operate mines in Zimbabwe, which has significant reserves
of platinum, diamonds and gold.
African country is in the throes of an economic crisis, characterised
by four digit inflation figures and severe shortages of fuel and
A key pillar
of the economy along with agriculture, the mining sector last year
accounted for 44% of Zimbabwe's total foreign currency revenues,
according to Reserve Bank figures. - Sapa-AFP
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