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Zimbabwe In Bid To Revive Steel Deal With Former Indian Partner

Zimbabwean Industry and Trade Minister Obert Mpofu has flown to India in hopes of reviving the collapsed joint venture between the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company and ex-partner Global Steel, a ministry source said on Thursday.

A senior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Mpofu had instructions from the cabinet to try to convince the Mittal affiliate to re-enter the soured venture deal, or to find another investor. Global Steel scuttled plans to invest US$400 million in Zisco amid reports top officials had demanded share stakes.

A report by Zimbabwe's powerful Economic Conduct Inspectorate on what has been dubbed the “Steelgate” scandal is said to implicate ministers, parliamentarians and Zisco officials in the failure of the deal, and in asset-stripping at the parastatal.

Mpofu shared partial findings with parliament’s committee on industry and trade – but the full report has been withheld from the legislators. Deputy Finance Minister David Chapfika has reportedly agreed to hand over the report, but ruling party members of the committee told said they are concerned the document will be watered down.

Such fears were heightened when Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, to whom the economic inspectorate nominally answers, said even he has not seen the report.

For another perspective on “Steelgate,” reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to economist James Jowa, who said attempts at keep the lid on the burgeoning scandal will make it even harder for Harare to attract foreign investment.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...