REDCLIFF town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza says top government officials have given assurances that New Zimsteel (formerly Ziscosteel) would start operating in March this year, following nearly seven years of inactivity.
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of an interdenominational prayer meeting held at Torwood Stadium on Saturday where thousands of Christians sought divine intervention over the comatose firm, Gwatipedza said the council had received assurances from government that all was now set for the reopening of the town’s former major employer.
At its peak in the 1980s, the Redcliff-based Ziscosteel employed in excess of 10 000 workers and thousands more in downstream industries.
“We have received promises that Ziscosteel [New Zimsteel] will start working by end of March because all paperwork has been finished, what is now left is implementation. If it does not go according to that plan then we will have to go back to the authorities and ask for explanations,” Gwatipedza said.
Just three years ago, President Robert Mugabe officially cut the ribbon at Ziscosteel to symbolise the official opening of the company, but the company’s gates have remained closed due to bureaucratic bungling between government and new shareholders, Essar Holdings Africa.
Gwatipedza said her council was struggling to provide basic services in the town because it was owed over $14 million in unpaid rates by residents, most of them former Ziscosteel employees.
“The majority of our clients are workers of Ziscosteel and because they have not received salaries for nearly 50 months it has become so difficult for them to pay their bills and this affects the operations of the local authority. We are therefore hopeful that God will answer our prayers and Ziscosteel will open,” she said.
Organising secretary for the Saturday prayer meeting, Reverend Pardon Chingovo said: “We want God to heal Zimbabwe whose industry continues to shrink by the day especially here in Redcliff were our congregation is suffering owing to the closure of Ziscosteel and the downsizing of other companies, we want God to heal this disease.”