Calls on Govt to expedite Ziscosteel revival
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.