HARARE – The government has expressed a desire to restart a stalled Redcliff-based steel factory, New Zimbabwe Steel, formerly Ziscosteel.
The steel factory seems to be on track to regain its lost glory, if pronouncements by government are anything to go by.
Once considered southern Africa’s most integrated steelworks, the factory downed its shutters because of losses at the height of hyperinflation in 2008.
About 3 000 workers who have been unemployed for more than five years now are also hopeful of a new beginning.
With the help of workers and local people, the factory can once again regain its golden past.
We applaud government that finally it is doing something to help factory workers who were facing a lot of hardships.
Very soon, production will resume from the blast furnaces. The management must hit the ground running and start preparing for reopening.
We hope the dispute over 30 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves that had stalled the reopening will now be resolved amicably, after the stand-off between Obert Mpofu and Welshman Ncube was caught up in the coalition politics.
The multi-million dollar deal with Indian steel conglomerate Essar remains in limbo amid reports former Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu was refusing or delaying transfer of the reserves to Essar, who need the ore to begin operations.
If operationalised, the transaction, the biggest for Zimbabwe in years, is expected to revive the fortunes of the ailing steel giant.
This is an issue that Mike Bimha, the new minister of Industry and Commerce and his mining counterpart Walter Chidhakwa can resolve immediately over a cup of tea or whiskey.
The problems at NewZimSteel are not insurmountable. While the deal gave Essar 54 percent control of the new company NewZimSteel, the deal has an additional traction committed to infrastructural development where the company would also invest millions of dollars into a 552km railway line stretching from Mwanesi to Savannem in Mozambique.
The government must make an all-out effort to reopen the factory immediately.
Information from the ground suggests that all departments of the factory are ready now.
Founded by colonial time industrialists before Zimbabwe got its independence, the factory at its peak employed more than 4 000 workers and almost 15 000 people were dependent on it.
It was bought by a an Indian firm and was christened NewZimSteel.
Known for its special quality of steel, the factory was considered the best in southern Africa during its time.
Its closure meant loss of salaries for thousands of workers, and a loss of business for other firms
who relied on Ziscosteel or NewZimSteel for their survival.