Zim withdraws controversial mining Bill

Zimbabwe’s new inclusive government has withdrawn from Parliament the country’s controversial mining Bill, which would have forced foreign-owned mining firms to cede a controlling stake to Zimbabweans.

Citing Zimbabwe’s Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Thankful Musukutwa, the Zimbabwe Guardian said on Monday that the draft law had been withdrawn to allow for stakeholder consultation.

The withdrawal of the Bill is in line with promises made by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last month.

Tsvangirai, who had then just ended a three-week tour of Western capitals where he pitched for funds to help rebuild the ailing Zimbabwean economy, said Zimbabwe’s indigenisation law would be amended to lure foreign investors into the mining sector.

Under the draft law, foreign firms mining strategic minerals such as coal and coal-bed methane would have been required to sell 51% shareholding to the government, with the state taking 25% of that stake free.

Government would also take 25% shareholding in precious minerals such as gold, diamonds and platinum, while another 26% would go to locals.

“We are reviewing it. Fifty-one percent is far, far too high. The new coalition government hopes to agree a new local ownership level that is comfortable for investors, but still beneficial to the mineral-rich nation,” said Tsvangirai at the time.

The changes to the Mines and Minerals Act were approved by the Cabinet in 2006, but never signed into law.

“There has been realisation that in its present form the Bill would not be able to attract meaningful investment. Zimbabwe competes with other countries for investors,” said Musukutwa.

“What would go into the new Bill is dependent on the consultations and input stakeholders would have put forward,” he added.—I-Net Bridge

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