Biti’s comments came after Kasukuwere issued a notice last week declaring that all mining companies that had not regularised their shareholding must note that 51% of their shares were now owned by the state.
He said any business transacted in respect of the 51% shall have been conducted on behalf of government with effect from September last year.
“Companies are hereby advised that they are now dealing with assets of the state in respect to the 51% indigenised portion and any attempts to defraud the state will result in prosecution,” said the notice.
But Biti, a lawyer, said Kasukuwere had no mandate to implement nationalisation as the country had no such a policy on mines.
“Government of Zimbabwe has no policy of nationalisation, in any event, this is unconstitutional, save for the land issue but there has to be fair and immediate compensation,” said Biti. “Nationalisation of mines is outside his mandate.”
“This is unlawful,” said Biti.
“The Indigenisation and Empowerment Act of March 2010 makes it clear that where shares are ceded money has to change hands. He is breaching his own regulations.”
The Finance minister said a lot of Zanu PF ministers, including those in Cabinet, were against Kasukuwere’s attempts to forcibly acquire mines.
He said government acted as a collective entity and “none of us can run amok like a mad dog. He is clearly running amok.”
Biti said the publication of the notice would not have effect on business or investment as it was clear that Kasukuwere was just grandstanding.
“It is unfortunate that someone is trying to use government programmes to further political ambitions,” said Biti.
Economic planning minister, Tapiwa Mashakada said Kasukuwere’s announcement had created a lot of anxiety among investors and the general public who were now worried about the possible economic impact of such threats.
He said investors must be given adequate time to comply, instead of rushing them at a time government and individuals in the country had no money to pay for the shares as required by the law.
“That decision is null and void because it is arbitrary, unilateral and not a collective position of cabinet,” said the minister. “I want to assure investors that Zimbabwe is open for business as government is not going to expropriate or nationalise their companies.”
Mashakada said although over US$6 billion investment projects were approved last year, none of them had been implemented up to date because of the overtones of expropriation and nationalisation coming from the likes of Kasukuwere.
“Investors want predictability and consistency,” he said.
Mashakada said Zimbabwe was last year rated third in Africa in terms of preferred investment destination, but the risks brought by the indigenisation regulations were a threat to foreign direct investment which was necessary to achieve growth and generate employment as outlined in the Medium Term Plan.
Deputy minister of Youth Development, Tongai Matutu also said Kasukuwere’s statement was not supported by law and meant to create chaos and despondency.
“Perhaps he (Kasukuwere) made the statement out of frustration,” he said. “He knows that the law provides for penalties, but unfortunately it does not say what happens when a company refuses to comply with the indigenisation Act.”
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday threatened to take action against Kasukuwere claiming that he does not have authority to unilaterally seize private companies. He said the government had not yet come up with a position over the issue.
Repeated attempts to get a comment from Kasukuwere yesterday were fruitless.