Category: Exclusive Created on Thursday, 19 July 2012 11:13 Published Date
From MTHULISI SIBANDA
South Africa Bureau
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ NEWS) – THE inaugural Africa Mining Congress has ended in South Africa with stakeholders urging African governments to take a cue from Zimbabwe compelling international mining firms to share the vast mineral wealth with local communities where these firms operate.
Zimbabwe has put in place indigenization legislative to ensure such companies ceded a stake to indigenous Zimbabweans who despite the country enjoying immense mineral wealth, have not benefited from these blessings.
Critics, particularly the West, whose companies have a stranglehold on the mining industries in Africa, have lamented such moves.
However, during the conference held in Johannesburg, it emerged the Southern African country’s stance was garnering support from around the continent.
Monica Gichuchi, the Kenya Chamber of Mines chief executive officer reveals her country was considering such plans.
“We have considered going it the Zimbabwe way,” she said.
“As we review the country’s legislation, we are considering incorporating local ownership of the mines. We have however not reached a decision as to what percentage locals should own.”
Sakhile Ngcobo, the De Beers Consolidated Mines director for South Africa said it was high time mines considered sharing the wealth with local communities.
“Communities are tired seeing only dust and nice cars in their areas and not the money,” he said.
“As miners, we cannot continue operating the way we were doing 20 years ago. We need to find better ways of working with government and other stakeholders to ensure local communities benefit. Government has to play a major role in dealing with such socio-economic disparities.”
Sam Chikowore, chief executive officer of Exporien, supported calls for indigenization arguing sentiments such was scaring investors was misplaced.
“When such legislative was announced there were fears of an investor flight from Zimbabwe. Skeptics believed there would be disinvestment.
"Contrary, to perception, the country has received increased direct foreign investment for successive years and the trend is forecast to continue. Some of the investment has gone to mining,” said Chikowore.