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Zisco, NRZ to spur Byo revival

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THE resuscitation of the defunct Ziscosteel and the tottering National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will spur the revival of ailing and closed companies in Bulawayo, a Cabinet minister has said.

Nqobile Bhebhe
Chief Reporter

Speaking during the Alpha Media Holding Conversations series yesterday which run concurrently with the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha said the sleeping steel giant as well as the NRZ were key to Bulawayo’s revival.

Bimha was quick to add that while the government was moving with speed to engage Essar to revive New Zim Steel, some closed firms would not be able to reopen.

“If you want to restore Bulawayo back to being the industrial hub of this country again, you have to look at the factors that led to this situation. Zisco has a lot to do with industries in Bulawayo and with Zisco closing down all those companies that relied on Zisco also fell by the wayside,” he said.

“Scores of firms that had synergies with Zisco collapsed, but the government is putting efforts to revive it which is now New Zim Steel and we are almost there since it’s a big investment.”

Official statistics show that nearly 100 firms have closed shop in Bulawayo, with several others relocating to the capital to remain afloat.

An estimated $8 billion is required for retooling them back to life as it emerged the fund meant for resuscitating distressed industries has failed to give them a new lease of life.

Bimha added that there was an urgent need for the government in conjunction with the business sector to identify key industries that must be given top priority for revival.

The meeting was held under the theme “Bulawayo Open for Business” and was also attended by Small and Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni.

Essar Holdings in 2011 signed a $750 million takeover deal for one of Africa’s integrated steel works, which subsequently changed its name to NewZim Steel.

But the Indian firm has not started operations due to failure by the government to release iron ore mining claims which were part of terms for the takeover agreement.

When the deal was signed Zisco had a foreign debt of $300 million and domestic liabilities amounting to $72 million.

The minister also said the NRZ was key to the revival of Bulawayo industries. Bimha ruled out all closed firms in the city being revitalised due to ageing of equipment and competition.

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