HARARE, November 26 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s government is again scouting for an investor to revive Ziscosteel — once Africa’s largest steelworks — finance minister Patrick Chinamasa revealed on Thursday, confirming the collapse of a deal with India’s Essar group.
Presenting the country’s 2016 budget in Harare, Chinamasa said the government would take over Zisco’s estimated $700 million debt in a bid to entice another investor, after a deal with India’s Essar signed in 2010 failed to be consummated.
Chinamasa added that all Zisco’s employees would have their contracts terminated on three months’ notice, with effect from December 1 2015.
Essar beat off several rivals, including ArcelorMittal and Jindal Steel, to land the tender to take over Zisco, with its conquest being celebrated at an elaborate 2011 event attended by President Robert Mugabe and his then power-sharing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The deal soon ran into trouble over the iron ore mineral rights that had been written in, but which hard-line elements in Mugabe’s government found unpalatable.