HARARE – The revival of Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) is on course as the firm’s shareholders are set to meet next month to ratify its disposal to Hong Kong-based firm Tian Li.
Ziscosteel chairperson Nyasha Makuvise yesterday said the company will hold an extraordinary general meeting on February 8, to discuss “the takeover of the company’s debt by the government of Zimbabwe in return for the cancellation of any shares and any pre-emptive rights that the minority shareholders have in the company”.
The Kwekwe-based miner is currently reeling over a $370 million debt that has been accruing over the past few years.
At its peak, Ziscosteel was the largest integrated steel works in Africa with a capacity to produce one million tonnes of the commodity annually, and its demise in 2008 came as no surprise due to Zanu PF government’s chronic mismanagement, corruption and maladministration of the economy.
The company, affectionately known as the heartbeat of the Midlands province, used to produce over 50 000 tonnes of prime iron and steel and employed over 6 000 workers.
Currently workers at the company, who have received intermittent salaries over the years, are owed more than $110 million.
Industry experts said Ziscosteel’s revival will trigger growth in Hwange Colliery Company Limited, National Railways of Zimbabwe and other suppliers.
The steel giant has over the years caught the eye of investors across the world, but the multimillion dollar deals have fallen through due to various reasons ranging from bureaucratic bungling to corruption.
In 2011, a $750 million deal between the government and Indian firm Essar Africa Holdings (Essar) collapsed in 2016, with the investor bailing after steel prices plunged 40 percent in 2014.
Zimbabwe signed the multi-million dollar deal in 2011 to revive Zisco fortunes but the highest level the deal was consummated to was just a name change to New Zimsteel.
Before that, in 2006 another Indian firm Global Steel Holdings Limited courted Ziscosteel and was to inject $400 million in a rehabilitate, operate and transfer arrangement.