Zisco board opts to go local for steel firm revival

20 Sep, 2019 - 00:09 0 Views
Zisco board opts to go local for steel firm revival Dr Gift Mugano

The Chronicle

Michael Magoronga, Business Correspondent

ACTING Zisco chairman, Dr Gift Mugano, says his board will work towards the resuscitation of the defunct steel manufacturing firm using local resources and innovations.

A fortnight ago, Government through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce appointed Dr Mugano acting chair of the Zisco board.

The recently constituted Zisco board, which replaced the previous one that was led by Mr Nyasha Makuvise also saw the appointment of four other members.

In an interview, Dr Mugano expressed his wish to see the Redcliff-based iron and steel plant being resuscitated using local resources.

“We feel that there is a great scope of domestic innovations that we can use at the moment to resuscitate the company. 

“It’s my wish that we use locally available resources and innovations to resuscitate the company,” he said.

Dr Mugano said it was not easy for the steel plant to secure investors outside the country as it was one of Zimbabwe’s parastatals on the sanctions list.

The country was slapped with the economic embargo in the early 2000s by the European Union and America after embarking on the successful Land Reform programme.

However, the ushering in of the second republic under President Mnangagwa in November 2017, has seen the relations thawing.  This was largely due to the re-engagement drive that the Government has embarked on to improve relations and attract the much-needed foreign direct investment into the country.

 “Lest we forget that the company is on sanctions, which becomes difficult for us to get foreign investors easily.

“I prefer domestic means that will give us a full cover of investment. By so doing we also get to test our astuteness as a country on how able we are to do things on our own,” he said.

Dr Mugano said at present his board was embarking on familiarisation tours to acquaint themselves with the operations of Zisco.

“We recently visited the company and we will continue familiarising ourselves with the operations of the company so that we get to appreciate the way it operates.

“We need to understand how the company relates with the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Sable Chemicals, Lancashire Steel, Hwange Colliery Company Limited and a whole lot of other downstream industries.

“We need to be more practical than theoretical, so we will be updating you as we go. 

“But our main thrust is that the company be up and running,” he said.

He expressed confidence that the company would turn around.

 “Of course, our major objective is that the company gets back to employing about 3 800 workers. 

“We are going to do everything in our power, whether local innovation or whatever it is. We need to ensure that the company substitutes imports of steel and increases on exports,” he said.

The recently-appointed board has a huge task ahead following reports that a proposed deal between Government and Hong Kong-based R and F to revive operations at Zisco is failing to materialise.

Following the collapse of the $750 million Zisco revival deal the Government signed in 2011 with an Indian company, Essar Global, Zimbabwe in 2017 secured a $1 billion investment from R and F, to resuscitate operations at the defunct Redcliff-based steel giant.

The deal between Zisco and Essar Global collapsed due to a number of reasons, among them political bickering in the then inclusive Government.

Zisco ceased operations at the height of economic challenges Zimbabwe was reeling under in 2008 resulting in over 5 000 people losing jobs. 

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