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Lobby group challenges BAT, Unki mine plans

A local pressure group has called for the review of indigenisation plans tabled by two foreign-owned companies — BAT Zimbabwe and Unki mine — arguing that key stakeholders had been left out.

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The move by the group, the Zimbabwe Economic Empowerment Council (Zeec) reflects on the hurdles faced to economically empower locals in accordance with the contentious Indigenisation and Empowerment Act.

Zeec president, Temba Mliswa, last week said that in the BAT transaction, tobacco farmers had been left out. He said the group would meet Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, to register its concerns.

“We feel that there were certain stakeholders in the industry such as TIMB (Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board), Tobacco Association of Zimbabwe and farmers that were not consulted. As such, we feel it is important to ask the minister to review or rescind the BAT transaction,” Mliswa said.

“In the case of tobacco, unlike other transactions in the mineral resources, the key player remains the farmer.”

According to the BAT transaction that was approved by its shareholders last month, the cigarette manufacturer agreed to transfer 26% shareholding to locals in the first phase of complying with the indigenisation legislation.

According to the threshold set for the manufacturing sector, within the first year, 26% shareholding was required to be held by indigenous Zimbabweans by October 28 2012.

In the second year, 36% shareholding is required to be held by indigenous Zimbabweans by October 28 2013.

Within the third year, 46% shareholding is required to be held by indigenous Zimbabweans by October 28 2014.

By October 28 2015, 51% shareholding should be held by locals.

On Unki, Mliswa said that the ministry should name the individuals involved in the local consortium that is set to take up 10% shareholding in the platinum producer, a unit of Anglo American.

Unki’s indigenisation plan proposes that the National Indigenisation and Economic Fund would have 21% equity, 10% for a Community Trust, 10% for employees and another 10% shareholding to an indigenous consortium. 

“We want to know who is involved in the consortium. We believe in transparency,” Mliswa said.

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