The plan to revive operations at the largest integrated steel plant, Ziscosteel, has been touted as an investment milestone which is strategic in the economic turnaround of the country.
The visit by the president of the Chinese investor company, R and R, Mr Jang Li, who met with President Robert Mugabe in Harare yesterday, is viewed as a sign of commitment by both sides.
Zisco used to be one of the country’s biggest employers with over 5000 workers at its peak in the 1990s.
The company was a source of livelihood for a population of over 100000 people in Redcliff and Kwekwe and its non-functionality was negatively impacting on the country’s economy.
News that a Chinese investor is coming to resuscitate the company and also expand operations to include steel processing and production of stainless steel products have been received with joy.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Mike Bimha said a lot of preparatory work has already been done and a framework on the structure of operations is being finalised.
Minister Bimha also indicated that a number of ministries and government departments have been requested to input their contributions to ensure that the deal succeeds.
The closure of ZISCO was negatively affecting several industries in Kwekwe, Gweru and Bulawayo.
Its demise nine years ago had also affected Hwange Colliery Company and the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
Senses of relief and optimism have gripped the Redcliff community, whose resident’s lives depended on the giant steel company.
The residents showered the government with praises for its continued efforts in trying to revive the steel company which is the back bone of their economy.
Some were hopeful that the new investor will rescue them from the poverty they are living in as a result of non- productivity at ZISCO.
Others however were not so optimistic, hinting that they have heard the story of the revival of giant steel company so many times and were not sure whether this new deal will materialise after they celebrated the 2013 Essar deal which eventually crumbled.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Vice President Midlands Region, Mr Lulian Mashavakure said revival of ZISCO is fundamental to the country’s economic turnaround as well as for the benefit of downstream industries which are currently closed as a result of operational constraints.
Redcliff Mayor, Mr Freddy Kapuya could not hide his excitement, saying efforts by the government to revive ZISCO have brought a huge sigh of relief to Redcliff council which has been struggling as ZISCO was the sole source of livelihood for its residents.
Benefits to downstream industries
The new development is expected to be a stimulus that the whole engineering chain industry has been craving for as there is huge potential of growth in all sectors of the economy.
Close to four state enterprises are set to benefit from the revival of the steel manufacturer while it will bring increased revenue to the fiscus.
With an installed capacity of producing 1 million tonnes of steel monthly, the revival of the steel giant comes as sweet news to industrialists who have been calling for the resuscitation of the plant to stimulate industrial activity within the economy.
“Besides the production of steel, at least four state enterprises are set to benefit from the deal which will also push their production capacity upwards while also ensuring that they must sweat to match demands,” said Mr Davison Norupiri, an industrialist.
The bulk movement of raw materials, finished products to various destinations across the continent would mean brisk business for the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
“The recapitalisation of the NRZ becomes strategic considering the coming on board of ZISCOSTEEL,” NRZ Board Chairman, Mr Larry Mavhima said.
Efforts to revive the steel giant have been on for the past seven years and at one point takers were identified but the deal failed to materialize.
An industrialist, Mr Callisto Jokonya said politicians must put the nation first before personal gains.
Information at hand shows that the deal has been sealed and what is left is the implementation of the project which has been kept under wraps as a way of avoiding the problems that befell the ZISCO-Essar deal.