Updates by Thembinkosi Mangena and Wadzanai Mhombera
13:07 – The signing ceremony is over and the dignitaries are now going to inspect the commissioned wagons before a photoshoot.
13:04 – Now is the time for the signing ceremony between DIDG, Transnet and NRZ, and President Mnangagwa, Vice President Mohadi, Minister Gumbo and other senior officials are there to witness the symbolic exercise.
13:02 – The President ends his speech by declaring the first batch of the NRZ wagons officially commissioned.
13:01 – Cde Mnangagwa promises that the government will ensure that the welfare of NRZ workers, who have gone for years without salaries, is addressed and their working conditions improved.
12:57 – President Mnangagwa chronicles his first visit to South Africa as President and how he met Zimbabweans there. “They assured me that they will come back and invest in Zimbabwe and they have done that.”
12:55 – “We can’t say Zimbabwe is open for business when our railway lines and roads are down,” the President says.
12:53 – Cde Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe’s road network also needs attention, singling out the dualisation project of the Beitbridge-Chirundu, as the first priority.
12:51 – He adds that the resuscitation of big companies such as ZISCO, Shabanie Mashava Mine and David Whitehead are top on his agenda.
12:49 – President Mnangagwa says his government is committed to the modernisation of the railway system and establish new network into the region, so as reduce transportation costs and ensure the economy benefits from economies of scale. For the President, this is the time to move bulk cargo away from the road as this damages roads.
12:46 – Bank to business, President Mnangagwa says: ‘The rail system is essential in the transportation of bulk goods such as minerals, hence the importance of rail transport cannot be over-emphasised.’
12:43 – In his salutations, President Mnangagwa recognises music icon, Oliver Mtukudzi and asks him to come forward.
12:29 – Vice President Kembo Mohadi introduces the President and invites him to address the gathering.
12:00 – 157 wagons out of 200 are being commissioned today and Dr Gumbo says that the remainder of wagons will arrive in Zimbabwe by the end of April.
11:59 – Dr Gumbo: ‘NRZ is a critical enabler to the economy,’ adding that the government must strive to establish a vibrant railway system.
11:56 – Dr Gumbo says 82 potential investors have expressed interest in investing in NRZ.
11:51 – Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister, Dr Joram Gumbo takes to the podium. He acknowledges that the journey to resuscitate NRZ operations has been long and not easy, adding that the interim arrangement brings hope to the parastatal.
11:40 – Iyasa provides entertainment at the commissioning event:
The consignment being commissioned by President Mnangagwa comprises 157 wagons, 7 locomotives and 7 coaches. The NRZ has ordered 200 wagons, 34 passenger coaches and 10 locomotives which are being manufactured, while an interim measure has been put in place to ensure the parastatal plays a part in the resuscitation of the national economy while waiting for the conclusion of the deal.
11:00 – Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) Chairperson, Mr D. Chimhandamba takes to the podium to address the gathering, and says people in the diaspora is committed to complement government efforts to develop infrastructure in Zimbabwe for economic development.
10:45 – Cde Masuku says today is the beginning of good days, the day that marks the revival of not only NRZ but the entire economy. She adds that everyone attending the ceremony must feel at work on this great day.
10:36 – The Minister of State for Bulawayo, Cde Angeline Msuku gives her welcome remarks.
10:24 – Mr Emmanuel Manyika is the Master of Ceremonies (MC).
10:22 – Official proceedings begin with the singing of the National Anthem.
10:10 – You can catch the live proceedings on ZBC TV right now.
09:39 – Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Transport Minister Dr Joram Gumbo, Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, provincial ministers Cde Mirriam Chikukwa (Harare), Cde Cain Mathema (Matabeleland North), Cde Abednico Ncube (Matabeleland South) and Cde Angeline Masuku (Bulawayo), among others, are attending the event.
09:34 – The wait is over as President Mnangagwa arrives.
08:05 – BIG DAY FOR NRZ, BIG DAY FOR ZIMBABWE
It is a big day today for the National Railways of Zimbabwe, which had literally derailed for the past couple of years.
Today sees the commissioning of mainline locomotives, shunting line locomotives, wagons, passenger coaches and a powerline locomotive at NRZ Headquarters in Bulawayo.
The man to preside over the event is none other than the President of the Republic, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is pursuing a different economic trajectory since he took over the reins last November.
Cde Mnangagwa has made is clear on various fora that ‘Zimbabwe is open for business,’ and that ‘it is no longer business as usual.’
The President is on a re-engagement crusade and today is the beginning of the culmination of that economic revival drive.
After meeting a group of Zimbabweans in South Africa, a deal has been sealed and now, NRZ is set to resume normal train services around June after the implementation of the US$400 million Recapitalisation Deal sealed between government of Zimbabwe, Transnet and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group.
The government intends to revive NRZ within the 100-day plan.