The well-connected Zimbabwean businessman Philip Chiyangwa has asked President Robert Mugabe to award his Zeco Holdings firm control of the state-owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, arguing that giving the tender for strategic investor to a foreign company would be an “error of great proportions.”
In a letter sent to Mr. Mugabe on Monday and copied to Indigenization Minister Savior Kasukuwere and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, among others, Chiyangwa and his business ally Tendai Savanhu said foreign players were only interested in making money and would sabotage the economy in the process.
Chiyangwa and Savanhu jointly own Zeco Holdings, which assembles locomotives for the financially-troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe and fabricates aluminum, among other activities.
The government has invited bids to take up a 70 percent stake in the long-troubled state steel maker. The successful bidder would have to pay off Zisco's debts of around US$300 million. Companies from India, China and South Africa have submitted bids which are being evaluated, government sources have said.
Chiyangwa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the Zisco tender should be awarded to a local black-owned company in line with the national indigenization program. "Our position is that indigenization has to be effected in all the sectors, and the Zisco tender has to go to a local company," Chiyangwa added.
Responding, Industry Minister Welshman Ncube told VOA that if Chiyangwa was genuinely interested in Zisco, he should have submitted his bid when the tender was still open.