Zimbabwe May End Majority Black Ownership Rule for Diamond & Platinum Sectors

Mining and Exploration
23/01/2018 17:55

Last December, the Government of Zimbabwe announced it would be relaxing laws that require black citizens hold majority stakes (51%) in companies as it looks to restore confidence and boost economic growth. At the time, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said, “Zimbabwe is now open for business, and is putting in place supportive measures that seek to rebuild confidence and compete for investment, and enhance the economy’s competitiveness.” He also said that the government needs to, "assess its platinum and diamond industries more carefully." The new measure excluded the platinum and diamond sectors. This might be changing. Zimbabwe, which has the world’s second-biggest platinum reserves, now may lift a requirement that companies mining the metal or diamonds must be at least 51 percent owned by black citizens of the country.

Last week, Mnangagwa suggested he might also abolish the requirement for the diamond and platinum sectors, Bloomberg reports. “I only excluded diamonds and platinum for now. We do not have a real or deep-rooted or well-interrogated policy on diamonds or platinum,” the 75-year-old president said in an interview in his office in the capital, Harare, last week. “Down the line when we are satisfied that this can also go into the open basket we will do so.” The reversal could not be more pronounced in the case of diamonds, following the formation of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) in 2016, which merged seven foreign diamond mining companies into a single entity under state control. At the time, Minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa said the merger was meant to foster transparency and accountability among Chiadzwa diamond mining companies which had failed to remit any proceeds to government coffers despite reports of massive earnings from diamond sales, but the move was followed by "chaos" and declining output. The diamond sector has seen signs of life in the meantime, but lifting the ban would likely spark investment.