News / Africa

Platinum Giant Cedes Majority Stake in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe opens the country's Parliament  in Harare, October 30, 2012.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe opens the country's Parliament in Harare, October 30, 2012.
The world’s largest producer of platinum has bowed to pressure to cede 51 percent of its mining operations in Zimbabwe to local black concerns - under President’s Mugabe’s controversial indigenization policy. 

The Anglo American Platinum announcement comes as the company struggles with wildcat strikes in South Africa.  Zimbabwe, meanwhile, is stalled in getting financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), due in part to concerns that the indigenization policy chases away much-needed foreign investment. 

Indigenization law

Anglo American became the second mining giant to comply with the indigenization law requiring all foreign-owned companies to transfer a majority stake of their Zimbabwe operations to local blacks.  The law is aimed at what the government says is addressing racial inequalities lingering from white colonial rule.

Anglo American Platinum executive in Zimbabwe, July Ndlovu, says he hopes surrendering the company's majority stake will benefit Zimbabweans.

"It has not been easy.  We have argued a lot, but we engaged in this process with only one single purpose in mind: which was to find a transaction which is value credited and beneficial to all parties and can ensure a sustainable mining investment in this country," said Ndlovu.

The deal calls for a 51 percent transfer of Anglo’s Unki mine - worth more than $140 million - to a state fund, mine employees, a community trust and unnamed local investors.

Earlier this year, Impala Platinum became the first mining concern to transfer 51 percent of its Zimbabwe operation Zimplats to local black interests under the same law.

Disincentive to investors

Zimbabwe has some of the world's largest known platinum deposits and the transfers are seen by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party as a financial windfall in the cash strapped country.

But coalition partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his MDC party and many economists disagree - saying the indigenization policy is a disincentive for continued and new foreign investment.

It also appears to be a major obstacle in getting IMF and World Bank loans.  The IMF did relax restrictions on technical assistance to Zimbabwe earlier this week - but that does not translate into funding, says analyst John Robertson from Robertson Economic Information Services.

"The government has been crying for money and this is not money.  This is advice.  If we follow the advice we may qualify for financial assistance," he said.

But Zimbabwe's Empowerment and Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere argues indigenization is actually creating a sustainable mining investment in Zimbabwe - and those that see it any other way need not invest in the African country. 

“This policy has been extensively debated.  If major, those major, investors can accept that this policy gives them a fair return, to then say [it] scares away investors - if there are investors who do not want - must stay in their own countries," said Kasukuwere.

It remains to be seen if Anglo American will reap a fair return in Zimbabwe after giving up its majority stake and it is not clear if the move is related to its recent troubles in South Africa.

The platinum giant has been facing illegal strikes since mid-September in spiraling labor actions across much of the mining sector.   Some 12,000 platinum miners have yet to return to work at mines outside of Johannesburg.  The company says production is down by 3,694 ounces of platinum - or $5.7 million - per day. So far losses have amounted to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in about six weeks.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs