NEW ZIM STEEL employees have blamed what they termed lack of commitment by Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube for stalling the full consummation of the
$750 million Essar/ZISCO deal.
Report by Tarisai Mandizha
Appearing before Parliament’s Industry and Commerce committee yesterday, ZISCO Artisans’ Union chairperson Obert Shokombishi said Ncube only visited Redcliff once in 2011 for the official ceremony.
“What is happening to our nation? This is our future generation and we are all concerned about the minerals and the deal. What about the future of people and the future generation that has been denied their right to education?” questioned Shokombishi.
“As government, you represent the people, what are you doing?”
He said since 2010, all that had been talked about was minerals and the Essar deal, at the expense of the welfare of workers and their families.
“Since 2010, no one has talked or shown concern about the lives of people. What about what we have lost in the three years?
“There has been great talk about the deal and mining rights, but nothing about the human resource base and the future generation,” he fumed.
Shokombishi said the situation at Zim Steel was now dire such that the livelihood of workers had been reduced to nothing.
He said Redcliff municipality recently sent final warning letters to individuals demanding payment of over due service charges.
New Zim Steel chief executive officer Alex Gowo told the committee that there was no progress at the steel manufacturing plant, adding that the situation on the ground was not good.
“For the past three years, we have been told there could be progress, but to date nothing has happened. Since last year, we have been struggling to raise even an eighth of the basic salary, which is 12,5 % ,” he said.
“We have barely managed to cover the school fees of our employees since last year and those who are sitting for exams as of June, we are not sure if they will be allowed to write the exams.”
He also said the company was receiving threatening letters from the employees’ landlords, credit shops and utility providers demanding payment.
“We have pressure from the utility providers and now we are not sure where we are going,” he said.
He, however, said the company was now selling some of its assets to raise employees’ wages and for other operational requirements.
He added that to date the only remaining asset could only raise about 12,5% of the employees’ wages for only two months.
“My hands are tied. According to the government, Essar took over the control of New Zim Steel, but unless there is a reverse of that agreement. My powers are very restrictive.
“I can only sell sundry products for the day-to-day running of the business,” he said.