Coalition bickering cost Zim $750m Essar deal, minister

BICKERING and fighting between political parties in the last coalition government led to the collapse of the US$750 million Essar deal, a senior government official has said. 
In March 2011, government signed an agreement with Indian firm Essar Africa Holdings under which the foreign company would take over and resume operations at the defunct state-owned Ziscosteel in Redcliff.
The deal later fell through with the finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, confirming the collapse agreement while presenting the 2016 national budget, in November last year. 
Addressing delegates at the 2016 Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) annual congress in Bulawayo this week, industry and commerce minister Mike Bimha said the investor was put off by the continued infighting in government. 
“The lesson we learnt from the Ziscosteel situation is never get into an inclusive government because the moment you do that there is continuous bickering and arguing, and as we continued to argue the investor was still waiting.
“While you are fighting, the investor won’t be idle; he is going elsewhere and applying his funds to other things. When this (coalition) was over, we said, investor come now we are ready but the investor had spent money elsewhere,” said Bimha.
Minister Bimha said government was still keen to revive the giant steel company and was in talks with other prospective investors. 
“We are engaging a number of aspiring investors as I speak in order to resuscitate Zisco,” he said, adding that the finance ministry was in the process of “cleaning the Ziscosteel balance sheet”.
The company, steel which collapsed in 2008, was the largest integrated steel works in Africa with a capacity to produce one million tonnes of steel annually. Advertisement