President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday officially relaunched the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, renamed New Zimbabwe Steel Private Limited under new management by strategic partner Essar Africa Holdings.
A crowd of more than 4,000 attended the ceremony in Kwekwe, Midlands province, which was also attended by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube.
Sources said Essar Africa as strategic investor with a 53 percent stake in the formerly moribund steel maker is now reaching out to the Zimbabwean diaspora seeking to recruit former employees with specialized skills to revive the firm.
ZimSteel Workers Committee Secretary General Takura Chikwiri said Essar management had promised to retain all current employees.
Ziscosteel collapsed in 2008 with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt after years of mismanagement, the fate of many Zimbabwean state-controlled enterprises.
Chikwiri said there is a lot of excitement in Kwekwe and surrounding Midlands towns over the industrial relaunch. “Everyone here feels that we have been given a new lease of life and we are determined to revive this great company,” he said.
Economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, applauded Essar's move to tap the diaspora.
Essar’s US$750 million takeover of ZiscoSteel and its subsidiary firm, Buchwa Iron and Mining Company, had been stalled for four months due to a misunderstanding over the payment of some of the outstanding debts amounting to more than US$300 million.
The company is expected to pay all debts and appoint a new chief executive officer and board of directors within the next few weeks.