13 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Resolve New Zim Steel Impasse

editorial

Government pronouncements over the resurrection of the giant steelmaker, Ziscosteel, now renamed New Zim Steel have become a source of depression rather than hope to the thousands of families in Redcliff, whose livelihoods depend on the steel making company.

Since the closure of Ziscosteel at the turn of the millennium, countless statements and promises have been made by government, raising national hope of an economic turnaround and the resuscitation of broken lives among the people of Redcliff, but every one of those promises has come to naught.

Zimbabweans will remember very clearly that day, two years ago when President Robert Mugabe travelled to the Midlands mining town and spent the whole day there officiating at the re-opening of Ziscosteel amid huge pomp and ceremony.

The President cut ribbons signaling the re-ignition of steel furnaces that had long gone cold. He told Zimbabweans that the billion dollar project, under a new Indian concern Essar Holdings had finally come back to life.

A few months later however, the nation was told the deal had flopped amid accusations of gross incompetence and dishonesty on the part of government officials and the concerned prospective investor.

Two weeks ago, residents of Redcliff complained bitterly about false promises and the fact that officials were playing games with their lives after going for ages without salaries.

Hardly a week later, Deputy minister of Industry and Commerce, Chiratidzo Mabuwa was telling Senators in Parliament that the giant steel firm was set to roar back to life inside the next two months!

"You can take it from me that it (the resuscitation) will not be in the next year or will it be in the second half of the year... It will be within the first half of this year," Mabuwa said.

No right thinking person will believe Mabuwa's statement because New Zim Steel will not be operating any time soon unless a protracted dispute between government and the investor over iron ore claims is resolved.

Cheap talk will not bring food on the tables of hungry workers in Redcliff.

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