BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s steel maker New Zimbabwe Steel, formerly Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel), will be revived before December, a government official has said.
A reopening could stem the famine and destitution stalking Redcliff in the wake of the mining group’s shutdown.
Mike Bimha, Industry and Commerce minister, told delegates at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) congress in Bulawayo last week: “Let me assure you that the work on the revival of Ziscosteel also known as New Zimbabwe Steel will definitely commence before the end of this year.”
The company’s estimated 3 000 workers have not been paid since June last year.
Indian firm Essar Holdings’ $750 million takeover of NewZimSteel has stalled because of a dispute over the transfer of mineral resources, forcing officials from the firm to decamp from the Redcliff site.
Three thousand workers and their family members in Redcliff are languishing because of the shutdown, which has affected salaries and medical aid insurance fees.
Yet steel prices are at high on the international markets, and this company, which has found a suitor to pump working capital, also is sitting atop one of the richest and consistently-producing steel veins in the world.
Ziscosteel, a major foreign currency earner before independence in 1980, stopped operations in 2008 at the height of an economic crisis, due to lack of capital to re-equip its plants.
Prior to the takeover, government held about 70 percent in Ziscosteel — once the largest integrated steelworks in the region.
Things at NewZimSteel are getting badly out of hand, with hundreds of angry workers charging that their families were going hungry and plagued by disease.
Workers who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity fearing victimisation said living conditions had deteriorated because they did not even have money to buy food and this might result in violence.
“It is only promises and promises from the side of management and workers are very angry,” said one worker.
NewZimSteel’s rescue has been delayed due to squabbles in government during the inclusive error, amid reports that Welshman Ncube and Obert Mpofu were differing on the sale off of mining claims.