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Minister says not talking about Zisco’s revival

03/08/2017 00:00:00
by Business Reporter
 
Saying not a word ... Industry minister Mike Bimha
 
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INDUSTRY and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha says government learnt the hard way about counting its chickens before eggs are hatched after the collapse of Ziscosteel’s billion-dollar revival.

The Harare administration is in the process of engaging potential foreign investors for the revival of the Redcliff-based steelmaker after the $750 million agreement signed in 2011 with Indian firm Essar Africa Holdings failed to take off.

MDC leader Welshman Ncube was Industry Minister when the Essar deal was brokered. After the end of the coalition government, Bimha took over but the deal with the Indian investor could not be implemented.

Speaking at the Confederation of Zimbabwe (CZI) 2017 congress which opened on Wednesday in Victoria Falls, Minister Bimha said government had made too much noise on the Essar deal before anything tangible bad been realised and now he was keeping his mouth shut.

This was after participants at the congress asked why government was delaying resuscitation of parastatals such as Zisco, National Railways of Zimbabwe and Cold Storage Commission which they said are critical to economic turnaround.

“If Zisco comes back on board it will have huge impact to the economy,” said Bimha.

“One of reasons why Zisco has not been revived is that we talk too much. We make noise while we are still negotiating and bring as news our position while negotiations are still ongoing.

“Because of that we have learnt the hard way and we are now doing things differently.”

He however, said significant progress has been made towards engaging an investor for Zisco, adding the company would now be making flat products as opposed to long steel.

“I don’t want to go again into the issue of making pronouncements before we get things up,” said the minister.

“However, in the next month or two we will be able to engage you as industry and inform you where we are but we are really advanced in that regard as we now look at investing in
processing.”

Minister Bimha said resuscitating the company will also breathe life into the value chain including firms such as Lancashire Steel.

“Zisco used to produce what is termed long products and this limited us. Now the entity will also produce flat products and will also go into stainless steel which is the other end of value addition,” he said.



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Zisco’s revival also depends on functioning NRZ, Hwange Colliery, Sable Chemicals and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

In November last year, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said government would consider financing the company if it fails to get foreign investors.

Last month Sheriff of the High Court attached vehicles, machinery and other movable property belonging to Zisco following an execution order granted by the High Court over retrenched employees’ unpaid salaries worth more than $60 million dating back to eight years ago.


 
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