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Hope Fades as New Zimbabwe Steel Remains Closed

Workers at New Zimbabwe Steel, formerly Ziscosteel, are almost losing hope that the company will start operating soon following its failure to do so last month as promised by Mines Minister Mike Bimha three months ago.

Bimha assured Zimbabwe at a congress of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries held in Bulawayo last October that “work on the revival of Ziscosteel will definitely commerce before the end of the year”.

But three months later, there is no visible activity at Redcliff in the Midlands Province as the management of Essar Africa Holdings has not yet returned to the steelworks, claiming that government is still reneging on the $750 million deal.

The old Ziscosteel management says it recently sold scrap metal and other sundries to pay an eighth of each of the 3,000 workers’ salaries. The lowest paid workers got at least $50 each before Christmas Day.
Ziscosteel chief executive officer, Alois Gowo, declined to give any details of the company operations and referred questions to Minister Bimha and Essar management, who were not readily available for comment.

The Essar deal was derailed by a dispute between government and Essar over the ownership of mineral resources, forcing the Indian firm to leave Redcliff pending the revision of the partnership. The company owns majority shares in the new company.

Chairman of the Ziscosteel Joint Workers’ Unions, Benedict Moyo, says the future still looks bleak for workers who had high hopes that New Zimbabwe Steel company would start operating last month.