By Leopold Munhende
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, struggling to create employment as promised in his manifesto has revived attempts to resuscitate troubled Midlands based former steel giant ZISCO Steel.
Speaking at his first meeting with members of the new Zisco Steel board on Wednesday, Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said that government was in negotiations with a Chinese firm, R and F after the collapse of its Essar Africa deal.
He also announced the new Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDCZ) board.
“Zisco Steel stopped operating in 2008, that is 11 years ago there have been efforts to try and bring it back we have had different progresses reported Essar and the likes.
“When we came in there was an agreement in place with a Chinese company R and F and there are a few housekeeping issues that are being tidied to that effect,” said Ndlovu.
“There are issues that we feel as government had to be looked into and that is which together with the incoming board we will have to see through.”
Ndlovu added: “We are hoping that we will finally reach an agreement on the way forward with our potential investor R and F after that we expect that there will be significant progress.”
R and F, will meet government in two weeks has reportedly tabled US$1 billion in the deal whose details Ndlovu could not share with journalists.
“It is a significant step in as far as bringing back Zisco Steel is, we might not have the big giant collectively that we had but we will have collectively what Zisco Steel used to do if not more than that,” the Industry Minister said.
At its height Zisco Steel employed some 5 000 people and supplied steel and iron across Africa.
However an economic crisis early 2000s reduced its employees to a paltry 200 as it struggled to pay off a US$340 million debt to its suppliers.
The new Zisco board has Gift Mugano as vice Chairperson, Constance Zhanje, Mabel Buzuzi and Hawa Mwasa Sidambe while the chairperson is yet to be appointed.