Home » Business » New Zim Steel Reopening Fails to Ignite Redcliff

THE recent announcement that New Zimbabwe Steel in Redcliff would soon resume operations has failed to ignite optimism in the sleepy mining town of Kwekwe.

People who talked to Standardcommunity last week said they had been told the same story too many times but nothing had ever materialised.

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha recently announced that New Zimbabwe Steel, formerly Ziscosteel, would soon resume operations.

Bimha told parliament that the new majority shareholder Essar Africa would soon come to revive the sleeping giant and bring relief to the over 1 000 workers who have gone without pay for years.

The community’s lack of hope and or excitement is understandable considering that similar promises have been made but nothing came out of it.

Last year, the workers at the collapsed steel producer had a miserable Christmas holiday after they received paltry salary part-payments ranging between US$20 and US$50 each.

Jacob Bwanakaya of Torwood suburb in Redcliff, home to the bulk of New ZimSteel workforce, said the news did not bring him any joy.

“We are so tired of hearing that the company will soon be on its feet.

What we want to hear is how they will pay us our outstanding salaries,” he said.

Bwanakaya, who is a boiler maker by profession, said it was sad that the government had allowed the company to die under its watch.

“How are we supposed to send our children to school, let alone feed them when we are not being paid?” he said. “Their negotiations have taken too long and we have been patient for too long.”

Ngonidzashe Chirongoma, who is a student at Kwekwe Polytechnical College, said most of the former New ZimSteel workers were wallowing in poverty.

“Our parents are struggling to fend for us and in my case, my father who has been with the company for ages has not received his salary for almost a year,” he said. “I commute to college every day from Torwood but at times I have no bus fare and I cannot ask my father because I already know his situation.”

Another employee, Betty Chizuzu said she was living from hand to mouth. She said the situation was pathetic, especially in the high-density suburb of Torwood.

“These deals should just be finalised once and for all. Last year in October we were told the same thing but up to now nothing has happened,” she said.

Bimha said the government was waiting for Essar to come and finalise the US$750 million deal.

“We have done our bit and Essar has promised to come soon and once that has happened, we can seriously start to turn around the misfortunes of the company,” he said. “Additional plants are expected to be constructed once the Essar deal comes through.”

In 2011, government sold 54% to Essar, a Mauritius-registered sub-unit of India’s steel manufacturing giant Essar Global, but the deal failed to take off due to some disagreements.

At its peak, Zisco produced more than one million tonnes of steel per annum and employed up to 4 000 workers.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard