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Ziscosteel story, demise & revival

Can Ziscosteel, the steel making giant be resuscitated given the former and current political and economic trends in the country? Can Ziscosteel kick into full time production in tandem with current technological advancement against the archaic mining methods being employed by miners in this country (Chikorokoza). Can Zimbabwean government still have the political will, acumen and zeal to drive the necessary creation of an atmosphere for recreation of Ziscosteel and refurbishment, realigning and revival of the steel making processes and subsequently firing up of down line related steel manufacturing industrial companies like Lancashire Steel, Salwire and others. Also given the partnership bedded by Zimbabwean government and their look east policies, will Ziscosteel be resuscitated? Will roping in of steel making companies from western countries bring hope in gunning life into former colossal steel making giant to its former colonial Rhodesia. Given this plethora of myriad consequences surrounding the resurrection of Ziscosteel, will the Zimbabwean government emerge unscathed in the pumping of life to dead Ziscosteel or these efforts are like flogging a dead horse?
Ziscosteel used to employ more than 5 000 workers and contract more than a dozen of companies in its operations at the site. The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) was the backbone of transportation of raw materials and finished products of steel making giant across Southern Africa and beyond. The railway system in Zimbabwe is non existence and it needs agent attention and renovation.
“The existing railway lines in Zimbabwe need extensive rehabilitation exercise. The railway signal system is non existence. The government must stamp its authority and weigh in heavily on corruption, which is the root cause of dysfunctional administration management of National Railways of Zimbabwe, Ziscosteel and most government parastatals in Zimbabwe. Without reigning in corruption in the country, forget about resuscitation of Ziscosteel and National Railways of Zimbabwe”, said Amos Dengue, a NRZ pensineer from Gweru.
Ziscosteel closed down operations at the height of hyper inflation in 2008 and was the source of foreign exchange earnings in the country. Since then, efforts to resuscitate the steelmaking company have been hitting a brickwall hard. People in Redcliff are tired of government efforts to bring back ‘Zisco’.
“ We are extremely tired of this reopening of Ziscosteel. We need real plans, not politicking. In actual fact there is no Ziscosteel company to talk about. Visit the existing site where Ziscosteel used to be, you will only see empty shells. The only way forward is to build another new steel making company at the site in order to make it easier for the new company to have access to limestone, which is in abundance in near Ziscosteel old site “, said Onias Murefu, a former employee of Ziscosteel from Torwood Redcliff, a sprawling suburb created to house Ziscosteel employees.
“When the plant was put in place such as the caster 2 and sinter plant were ahead of their times in terms technology,now they need upgrading, the other plants need to be modernised and skipping some operations, taking into account that we need to create employment. They have to also take Zimchem into the equation and other companies that existed with the steel making giant ”, chipped in Marvis Chirefu, one of the few female artisans to be trained at Ziscosteel Training Centre, which was one of the best technical training centers in the country. Most former employees of Ziscosteel interviewed expressed optimism that if all is planned meticulously the once towering, imposing structure will come back to life.
“ The Barros and mills need replacement, the short term would be to revive the Barros in its state and generate money whilst the light,medium
mills need complete replacement, Bimco can start on agricultural lime and Zisco revive lime kiln for burnt lime for use by Gold producers and their brick moulding uni.whilst looking at resuscitation of ripple creek plant. On Zimchem the government has to look at the costing structure of its products for it to compete with SA companies supplying tar at about three cents lower than Zimchem, this can be looked at subsidizing it on water,zesa,products from Zisco. Zisco will need an electric arc furnace to produce steel whilst replacing the furnaces with modern technology“, explained Moses Banda, another former techician at Ziscosteel.
It is better to build another ‘Ziscosteel ‘ company in Chivhu or in Mberengwa, near the iron ore than building a new company at the old site in Redcliff. This will ease the transportation of iron to Redcliff from Buchwa Mine. At the moment there is no railway network in Zimbabwe to cater for such industrial growth of such magnitude. Our railway system is nonexistent “, lamented Julius Songolo, another former employee from Mbizo Kwekwe.
It remains a mystery if not a puzzle on the reopening of Ziscosteel. More stories of the resuscitation of the once pride of Southern Africa steel making enigma remains a closed open account – a dirge, dead men tell no tales.

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