Finance minister Mthuli Ncube says that he will bring back to life defunct and debt-stricken Ziscosteel in 2021.
Mthuli Ncube made the big promise while presenting the country’s 2021 National Budget in parliament on Thursday.
“In 2021, Government will resuscitate Ziscosteel through innovation and harnessing inward opportunities, while working closely with local investors. This will be done through courting new investors who will bring new technology and new skills.
“The revival of Ziscosteel is key to the economy through its potential benefits in job creation and value chain impact in companies such as National Railways of Zimbabwe and Hwange Colliery and the resultant savings in foreign currency in excess of US$1 billion through importation of steel products,” Ncube said.
“While the search for new investors is in progress, Government is currently implementing a short-term roadmap of resuscitating the firm’s subsidiaries which include ZimChem, Lancashire Steel, and Buchwa Iron Mining Company (Bimco) among others,” Ncube said.
At its peak at independence,Ziscosteel was producing 30 tonnes of steel a day, and directly employed over 5 000 people and about 50 000 others in downstream and support industries.
By 1984, the plant was the country’s biggest earner of foreign currency, but only two years later, signs of poor management were beginning to show.
An inquiry into the operations of Ziscosteel between 1980, when former President Robert Mugabe took over power and 1986, revealed that already, the main issues that were affecting the company included poor management, corruption, nepotism and failure to refurbish and properly maintain equipment.
Almost four decades later and after several economic hiccups resulting from Mugabe’s inept policies, the massive Ziscosteel industrial complex lies dead, forgotten and rotten like a giant eyesore.
In September the Ziscosteel board cancelled all deals it entered into with various business entities as it views them as unfavourable to its revival plan.
This was confirmed by board chairperson, Martin Manhuwa while briefing a government inter-ministerial team that toured the giant Ziscosteel plant in Redcliff.