ZISCO ex-workers still to get pension payments 10 years after company collapsed; many have died without getting their money

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By Staff Reporter

FORMER Ziscosteel employees have now gone for about a decade without receiving their pension pay-outs after the government-owned company collapsed due to mismanagement, corruption and under-capitalisation.

As part of his election campaign for the 2018 general vote, President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to revive the Redcliff-based giant steelworks whose collapse in 2008/9 adversely impacted the wider Midlands province’s economy.

Government now says it has secured fresh investment for the steel producer through Kuvimba Mining House and some foreign technical partners with operations reportedly set to commence soon.

In light of these developments, ex-workers are slowly losing hope of ever receiving their pensions with many dying over the years without getting the payments.

At its peak and before political interference, mismanagement and corruption brought it to its knees, Ziscosteel had a direct workforce of more than 3,000 employees and was one of Africa’s largest integrated steelworks.

In 2015 then Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced during a budget presentation that Ziscosteel employees had been terminated on three months’ notice with effect from December 31 of that year.

Since then, the workers have not received their pensions.

Addressing some of them recently at the company’s Redcliff premises, Ziscosteel board chairperson Martin Manuhwa said government was concerned about their plight without clarifying when the pension payments would be made.

“The issue of pensions is very painful,” said Manuhwa.

Ziscosteel board chairperson Martin Manuhwa

“As Ziscosteel, we are proud of pensioners because they are the ones who made this company to be what it is.

“As Ziscosteel, we are urging the pension fund, IPEC and government to ensure that the commitment made in 2018 for the pensions through the pension fund.

“As ZISCO board and management, we … we raised the issue with the authorities … that or our pensioners are not getting anything.

“Even the industry minister spoke about this issue in parliament to have this issue resolved. She is so concerned about it.”

The board chairman continued; “It’s not a ZISCO management issue per se.

“The company will come in through their pension contribution which they have to be paying … (and) our concern is that Zisco must pay its portion. We feel for you and we will raise this issue.”

Manuhwa said it is his wish to see Ziscosteel reclaim its former glory.

“Considering how resilient you have been during the company’s tough period I think failure is not an option,” he said.

“We work together with the contractor (Kuvimba Mining House), yourselves and the management team.

“We have gaps; we lost a lot of skills, so we are going to retool, and also use new technology of the fourth industrial revolution which will reduce a lot of emissions meaning that our steel will be modern, carbonised steel.

“We will also be doing net zero to ensure that the energy which we will be using will be less than what we were using before.”

Redcliff Member of Parliament (MP) Lloyd Mukapiko said; “It’s very sad that up to now the ex-workers are yet to receive their pensions.

“What is more saddening is the fact that some of these former workers are dying without receiving their pensions. There is a lot of uncertainty on when these former employees will receive their pensions.”