HARARE – Parliament has summoned Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha over progress that government has made in scouting for an investor to revive Ziscosteel — once Africa’s largest steelworks.
In a schedule of portfolio and thematic committees of Parliament for this week, Bimha is set to appear before members of the Christopher Chitindi-chaired parliamentary portfolio committee on Industry and Commerce tomorrow.
Chitindi confirmed Bimha’s appearance telling the Daily News yesterday that his committee hopes to gather information on progress made so far after government’s indication last year that it may be forced to dig deeper into its purse to revive Ziscosteel due to lack of foreign investors.
Government has said it would take over Zisco’s estimated $370 million debt in a bid to attract other investors, after a deal with India’s Essar signed in 2010 hit a brick wall.
Some Zisco employees had their contracts terminated on three months’ notice, late last year.
“I don’t know if the minister has made an undertaking to come tomorrow after we invited him as part of our oversight role on the executive and we hope that as the legislature will get to know what the executive is doing,” Chitindi said.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said unless Ziscosteel becomes operational, the country’s economic recovery will not take place,” he said.
“So, it is important that we should do whatever we can . . . either on our own resources . . . I have tasked the Industry ministry to tell us the basics and costing required getting Ziscosteel back on stream, so that treasury can maybe squeeze something towards this,” Chinamasa said in a recent interview with the Daily News.
“The rationale is we want to clean the company’s balance sheets and make it attractive to investors. So work along these lines is now advanced and we hope to wrap up soon,” the Treasury chief said.
Bimha’s deputy, Chiratidzo Mabuwa, has also said government was in the process of vetting six investors who have expressed interest in the steel concern.
Mabuwa said invitation of expressions of interest had been sent to 29 potential investors and six responses had been received by October this year.