Tsvangirai denies Zimbabwe plans to nationalize mines

Harare – Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday denied that the government planned to nationalize foreign- owned mines.

Earlier, a senior official aligned to Tsvangirai’s coalition partner President Robert Mugabe said the government has resolved to nationalize 51 per cent of the key sector to form a sovereign wealth fund to finance development.

Minister of Youths, Empowerment and Indigenization, Saviour Kasukuwere, made the comments to delegates attending an investment conference in the capital Harare on Wednesday. He and other members of Mugabe’s camp have made the suggestions previously too.

"This Friday we are gazetting the minimum threshold for the mining sector. We need the 51 per cent (equity) to come into our sovereign wealth fund," Kasakuwere said.

"We are all agreed as a government," he added.

But Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka, denied there had been agreement in the cabinet.

"A major decision cannot be taken without the approval of the prime minister," he said.

The formation of a power-sharing government some two years ago has brought about some economic stability, but investors remain jittery over the controversial "indigenization" policy which Mugabe says is meant to empower black Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe has minerals such as diamonds, uranium, chrome, platinum and gold. Major companies such as Anglo American, Impala Platinum and Rio Tinto.

According to Kasukuwere, earnings from mineral exports in 2010 amounted to 1.7 billion US dollars, about 30 per cent of Zimbabwe`s estimated gross domestic product. Government revenue from the industry totalled only 4 million US dollars, he said.