Distressed New Zimbabwe Steel Limited workers have started doing menial jobs on farms near the Midlands town of Kwekwe in an effort to make a living following stalled operations at the defunct Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel).
According to Zimbabwe Steel Workers Union secretary general Takura Chikwiri, the situation is so bad that the workers are being paid mealie-meal and potatoes by commercial farmers.
Chikwiri said although there have been indications that the Zimbabwe cabinet recently gave Indian firm, Essar Africa Holdings, the greenlight to revive Ziscosteel, the situation has not changed at Redcliff where workers were last paid in March this year.
“Some workers are reporting for work though most of them spend their time doing menial work on nearby farms where they are paid in kind,” said Chikwiri.
The Ministry of Mines has expressed dismay over some provisions of the initial deal which reportedly gave Essar Africa Holdings vast iron ore reserves at the expense of the government.
Chikwiri said the government and Essar have not informed workers about fresh efforts to revive the $750 million deal signed last year.
Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said there should be some visible progress at New Zimbabwe Steel within the next few weeks.
“We are currently working with the company and looking at the implementation matrix of the deal spelling out issues that need to be conducted by government and the Indian firm,” said Ncube.