Prioritise Ziscosteel rehabilitation

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

DEFENCE minister Emmerson Mnangagwa last week made a useful admission when he attributed the delays in the restructuring of New Zimbabwe Steel to political contestations in the inclusive government whose term would come to an end anytime soon.

Southern Eye Editorial

The giant steelmaker, formerly Ziscosteel, has been in the doldrums for a very long time because of various reasons, including political interference by the old Zanu PF administrations.

There was a glimmer of hope at the inception of the inclusive government in 2009 when the authorities decided to sell shares of the Kwekwe-based company to private investors.

A deal that gave Indian-based Essar 54% ownership of New Zimbabwe Steel and a further 80% control of New Zim Minerals was approved by Cabinet.

However, the deal has failed to take off because of disagreements between the ministries of Mines and that of Industry and Commerce.

Mnangwagwa told a meeting of the Midlands Show Society in Gweru that the discord in the inclusive government made it difficult to resuscitate the steel company.

He said political parties were after claiming credit in implementing government programmes, thereby stalling progress in the process.

Mnangagwa’s statements tallied with those of outgoing Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube who always accused Zanu PF ministers of throwing spanners in the Ziscosteel-Essar project signed in August 2011.

For the thousands of ex-Ziscosteel workers who have gone for years without getting their salaries, it is our hope that the new government that is likely to be made exclusively of Zanu PF ministers would prioritise this project.

The Mines ministry, which has always been in Zanu PF hands, would no longer have a reason to frustrate the conclusion of this deal, which is also crucial for Zimbabwe’s economic revival.

The unfair treatment of Essar by the inclusive government has already sent the wrong signals to potential Indian investors and Zanu PF now has a chance to redeem itself.