Impala Platinum’s (Implats) deal with the Zimbabwean government to comply with the country’s indigenisation policy is “non-binding” and could be changed, a cabinet minister has said.
The South African platinum miner agreed to sell 51% of its Zimplats unit to local black investors to meet the controversial new rules.
But youth and empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere told Reuters the agreement is open to change.
“You have to remember that this was a non-binding agreement that we signed with Zimplats. It allows all parties to raise issues they want and if there is a change of circumstances,” he said.
It comes after Implats revealed last week that Robert Mugabe’s government is to compulsorily acquire 50% of mining claims owned by Zimplats.
“Implats and Zimplats are taking legal advice in order to protect their rights and, in addition, remain in consultation with the relevant government authorities. Shareholders will be kept informed of any material developments,” the company said in a statement.
Kasukuwere explained that this move could alter the terms of the indigenisation agreement struck in January.
“They are losing part of their land so does that not constitute changed circumstances? It could change the structure of the deal,” he said.
Under the deal, Zimplats will provide a loan to the new shareholders at an annual interest rate of 10%, with the debt to be repaid through dividends over ten years.
The latest comments add to the confusion sparked recently when President Mugabe told state television that Kasukuwere might have “made a mistake” by agreeing to the loan deal.