Ziscosteel, the giant steel making company situated in Redcliff, Midlands Province, Zimbabwe is now dead and forgotten history. The once steelmaking giant in Southern Africa has no hope of resurrection, despite several resuscitation, futile and much hyped efforts by ZANUPF government and its Chinese, Indian and other so called investors Even the political parties in the opposition in Zimbabwe are clueless on how to bring back ZISCOSTEEL to life. Can the dry bones at Ziscosteel rise again?
“Without Ziscosteel, there is no Redcliff or Torwood, these two communities depend largely on Zisco for political, social, economic and health survival. When Zisco died, Redcliff and Torwood communities started slowly running out of breath or life. Everything is now dead in Redcliff and Torwood”, said Tawanda Chikowore from Redcliff.
A visit to Redcliff town by Chat Reporter Online revealed, a broken down community, most of the business are closed down, shops and banks have relocated elsewhere. Redcliff town council is broke. The water taps are dry, there is no drinking tapped water. No functioning ablution facilities. Dilapidated houses, lining the streets. The streets are almost empty or you might meet tired, hopeless, hapless and drunken residents loitering aimlessly in the streets.
A passing glance at Ziscosteel ‘complex’ tells another story of a fading, elusive, evasive, fading hope of life at the giant steel making company. The imposing tall chimneys, which used to belch synonymous smoke of production, stand out in defiance at the company, looming out in the blue sky as if as reminding the authorities of the production that used to grace the company. The Scinter Plant also sticks out like a sore thumb, signifying broken dreams. The longest conveyor belt (probably) in the world, which used to ‘transport ‘ iron ore from Ripple Creek to Ziscosteel, is also a strong reminder of the good days, that stopped rolling 20 years ago. When the conveyor belt stopped rolling, life ceased at the plant and the two communities.
‘There is no way Redcliff and Torwood communities can survive without production at Zisco There is need of a serious investment injection at Ziscosteel, for the continued survival in form of utilization of the available natural resources at the company disposal, raw iron ore is in abundance in Redcliff, water is available from Kwekwe river, there are also huge ‘slag’ from Zisco for the manufacture of cement and well trained manpower is also readily available “, said Joseph Mututi from Redcliff.
In Torwood, a residential area mostly occupied by former Ziscosteel workers is now a ghost of its former self- a sad story of lost hope, a typical replica of a dying community. The residents now survive on odd jobs to sustain their families. Drug abuse by youths is rampant. Also prostitution by young girls, widows and married women in no secret in Torwood.
“In Torwood it is survival of the fittest and the innovative. Nothing is illegal here. Drug and alcohol abuse is now a normal life in Torwood Prostitution is rife, hence the high HIV incidence rate in the area .These people solely depended on Ziscosteel for sustenance. We are the Walking Dead. Maybe the coming elections will bring back fresh hopes, maybe the good times will roll back once again”, said Marvis Chikozho, a widow from Torwood Q section.
Torwood was also known as the sporting heartbeat of Kwekwe and the mining community in Zimbabwe. It is endowed with once breath taking sporting facilities, which are now obsolete and neglected. Kuhn Tennis Courts, Zisco Club and Torwood Stadium are now pale shadows of their former selves. Torwood Stadium which had been neglected for the past twenty years resembled some ‘National Park’ as overgrown grass, shrubs and trees found “residence’ in the stadium, which was home of the much feared premier league giants, Ziscosteel FC and Chamber of Mines games were annually held in the stadium before the demise.
“We salute the organizers of Kwekwe Youth July Festival, which took place recently, they upgraded Torwood Stadium and we pray that more sports enthusiasts and investors will bring back life in Torwood and Redcliff. Life will be normal again “, said Emmanuel Mahoko.v