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Zimbabwe Govt, Indian Firm Abandon ZiscoSteel Workers

  • Gibbs Dube

Workers at New Zimbabwe Steel Limited say they have been abandoned by the government and management of Indian steel manufacturing giant, Essar Africa Holdings, which signed a $750 million deal with the government in 2011 to revive the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZiscoSteel).

According to ZiscoSteel Joint Workers’ Union chairman, Benedict Moyo, the company’s 3,500 workers have not been paid for 14 months, a situation that has left them without any source of income.

Moyo said there were high hopes among workers in January this year when the government announced that operations were to resume within few weeks in Redcliff following what cabinet said was an overwhelming backing of the Essar deal by all ministers.

He said the future now looks bleak for workers in Redcliff, Kwekwe and surrounding areas in the Midlands Province which have become ghost towns.

Political commentator Effie Dlela-Ncube said the ZiscoSteel deal is a clear indication that all is not well in the unity government.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube did not respond to calls on his mobile phone while Mines Minister Obert Mpofu and Essar Africa Holdings management refused to comment.

The deal has been mirred in controversy with some state officials claiming that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce almost parceled out millions of iron ore reserves to the Indian firm for peanuts.

The company has a 53 percent stake in ZiscoSteel which collapsed due to what critics say was mismanagement.