Calls on Govt to ex­pe­dite Zis­cos­teel re­vival

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Michael Magoronga

GOV­ERN­MENT has been called to ex­pe­dite the re­vival of the de­funct Zim­babwe Iron and Steel Com­pany (Zisco) to ig­nite down­stream eco­nomic turn­around in Kwekwe and other re­lated busi­nesses coun­try­wide.

Zisco ceased op­er­a­tions at the height of eco­nomic chal­lenges in 2008 re­sult­ing in more than 5 000 peo­ple los­ing jobs. Although Gov­ern­ment has said it se­cured a $1 bil­lion in­vest­ment from R and F, a Chi­nese firm, to re­sus­ci­tate op­er­a­tions at the de­funct Red­cliff­based steel gi­ant last year, there have been con­cerns over im­ple­men­ta­tion de­lays.

In 2011 Gov­ern­ment signed a $750 mil­lion in­vest­ment deal with an In­dian com­pany, Es­sar Global to re­vive Zisco but the deal col­lapsed due to po­lit­i­cal bick­er­ing in the then in­clu­sive Gov­ern­ment.

Ma­sawara group of com­pa­nies’ chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Dr Shingi Mu­tasa, said the demise of Zisco has crip­pled busi­ness op­er­a­tions in Kwekwe and the econ­omy at large.

“If we sim­ply start by awak­en­ing the gi­ant, Zis­cos­teel, then all these other smaller com­pa­nies that rely on it will spring to life and that will be our first ma­jor step to­wards eco­nomic re­cov­ery,” said Dr Mu­tasa.

Lan­cashire Steel, Zim­chem, Hagie Rand and Bimco, Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe and Hwange Col­liery are some of the com­pa­nies that used to rely on the Red­cliff-based steel man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany. Sable Chem­i­cals, which is owned by Ma­sawara group of com­pa­nies, also used to have good busi­ness with Zisco.

The new Min­is­ter of In­dus­try and Com­merce, Man­gal­iso Ndlovu, has also ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment over de­lays in op­er­a­tional­is­ing the $1 bil­lion Zisco re­vival deal and pledged to take ur­gent steps to en­sure progress. As Zim­babwe fo­cuses on trans­form­ing the econ­omy, Dr Mu­tasa said ad­e­quate at­ten­tion must be given to big projects that have a down­stream im­pact like Zisco.

“Those that are go­ing to ben­e­fit from the process are the ones who are ac­tively in­volved. All we need as Zim­bab­weans is a pos­i­tive mind that tells us that we are in the right di­rec­tion.

“I know we have been bat­tered and bruised by the eco­nomic hard­ships, but let us re­main fo­cused,” said Dr Mu­tasa.

He said the coun­try has the po­ten­tial to be­come one of the fastest grow­ing economies since it has the re­quired in­fra­struc­ture and other re­sources.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have also been urged to play a key role in the de­vel­op­ment of ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port busi­ness growth. Kwekwe Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion chair­per­son, Mr Michael Hanyani said eco­nomic turn­around ef­forts should cover small to medium en­ter­prises as they pos­sess a huge po­ten­tial.

“We plead with the lo­cal au­thor­ity to get us proper places where we can op­er­ate from to avoid this cat and mouse game with au­thor­i­ties,” said Mr Hanyani.

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