ZCTU says politics delaying ZISCO deal

HARARE Political meddling has delayed the naming of a foreign investor needed to help resuscitate the state controlled Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO STEEL), the countrys main labour union said last week.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) accused the government of playing politics while workers who could have benefited from a quick revival of the virtually collapsed giant steelmaker needlessly suffer.

There is need for potential investors to be viewed as such and not through political eyes, we say no to political interference in the operations of ZISCO, ZCTU secretary general said Wellington Chibebe as reports last Thursady indicated that a final foreign bidder for ZISCO stake could only be announced in the last quarter of the year.

Zisco and its workers have continued to suffer while political fat cats line their pockets. The ZCTU demands that government speeds up the processes of bidding so that production is restored at ZISCO and the morale of workers lifted.

Once the regions biggest integrated steelworks outside South Africa, ZISCO is tottering on the blink of total collapse due to mismanagement and excessive government interference.

A drive by management to woo a foreign technical partner with muscle to recapitalise ZISCO appeared to bear fruit when the worlds biggest steelmaker AccelorMittal bidded for stake in the Zimbabwean firm.

The bid was turned down by the Zimbabwean presidency, unhappy at the level of commitment a deal with AccelorMittal would mean for the smaller ZISCO.

But the ZCTU said the government was not acting with urgency required to get a new investor who could bankroll ZISCO and save jobs. The union also criticised corruption at ZISCO that is seen as the chief cause of the steel firms virtual collapse.

Thousands of jobs are on the line and the town of Redcliff (where ZISCO is based) is slowly dying while the government dithers.

It is shocking for the Minister of Industry and Commerce to reveal that government is still discussing whom to invite and not to invite for the bids. More time will be wasted when the selected bidders are referred to the three principals purportedly for approval, said the ZCTU.

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