MINISTER of Industry and Commerce, Dr Sekai Nzenza has said there is a need for Government to prioritise the revival of the Redcliff-based steel manufacturing giant, Ziscosteel which folded operations in 2008.
Speaking after touring the defunct steel plant recently, Dr Nzenza who was accompanied by other Cabinet Ministers, said there was an urgent need to revive Ziscosteel which was the backbone of the country’s industry.
She said the country was spending US$1,1 billion annually to import steel and steel products, a huge amount which could be used to fund other priorities if Ziscosteel was operational.
Government is still in talks with the Hong Kong-based company R and F which has shown interest in investing in the revival of the steel producer.
The negotiations started in 2018 and Dr Nzenza said this time around Government will not hesitate to drop non-committed investors as it pushes for the revival of Ziscosteel.
She said Government cannot continue spending huge amounts of money to import steel and steel products when the country has all the required raw materials to produce steel.
When operational, Ziscosteel is expected to export steel worth US$1 billion annually making it the country’s single largest foreign currency earner.
The revival of Ziscosteel which used to be Africa’s biggest integrated steel manufacturer, will boost other firms such as Hwange Colliery Company, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and many other downstream industries.
Zisco used to anchor economic activities in the Midlands province and many downstream manufacturing industries throughout the country.
In 2011, India’s Essar Group had agreed to buy 54 percent of Zisco’s shares in a deal worth $750 million. The deal however, collapsed in 2015 following disagreements over iron ore claims.
The failure by critical companies such as Zisco and NRZ to attract serious investors should be a cause for concern. Government probably needs to probe more and get to the bottom of the problem.
We need such companies to be up and running in order to accelerate the economic turnaround.
Zisco’s products are very critical for infrastructure development while the NRZ is supposed to provide reliable and cheap transport for industry.
There is a need to find out why companies which show great interest in investing in these important companies later develop cold feet.