13 October 2017
HARARE – Yesterday, a local weekly reported that the much-hyped
billion-dollar Zisco Steel (Zisco) deal was yet to be signed.
The man at the forefront of crafting and announcing the deal, Industry and
Commerce minister Mike Bimha, said “nothing solid has been signed to
date”, though, he thought there has been a “lot of progress”.
This is nearly two months after he unveiled the mega deal – to the
scepticism of many fed-up Zimbabweans – in which billionaire Chinese
investor Zhang Li is expected to pump in at least $1 billion to revive the
collapsed iron and steel manufacturer.
There is not much doubt about the investor’s capacity.
Zhang Li – co-founder and chairperson of R&F – appears capable to have the
capacity to finance an investment of such magnitude.
While it would seem too early to expect finalisation of a deal of such
proportion within the two months, there is good reason for long-suffering
Zimbabweans to be very much concerned and worried about its status and
When a jubilant Bimha unveiled the deal, it appeared almost like
everything was set.
And government has announced so many deals in similar fashion, but nothing
came out them.
They never materialised or probably, they are still in the making.
From the Chinese mega deals to Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote.
When Dangote set foot on Zimbabwean soil, it was like finally, Zimbabwe is
back on track.
He was beamed by State media on each and every news bulletin.
But now, government is deafeningly silent about the Dangote deals.
That is the burning question which makes Zimbabweans wary of these
While Zhang Li’s offer is seemingly attractive and comes at the right time
for investment-starved Zimbabwe, he is not the first to come to Zisco’s
There have been many before him.
Countless times, government has introduced, with zeal, investors it
claimed were keen and serious on reviving the steel maker.
Following bids by 12 companies in 2009, including steel giant Arcelor
Mittal, an upbeat government announced that it was partnering Essar Africa
(Essar) in a $750 million deal, which was eventually finalised in 2011.
The Essar deal was so hyped.
Just like Li’s.
It was only for government to tell Zisco workers – who had patiently and
hopefully gone for months on end without salaries – years down the line
that the deal collapsed.
It was so disheartening.
And Zimbabweans do not want a repeat of that this time around. Not at all.
This is just a gentle reminder, Cde Minister.
We are watching you.