-under a gloomy economy


HARARE- The limping Zimbabwe’s Engineering, Iron and Steel Industry last week celebrated 8 decades of operations under a gloomy economy.

Under the economic turmoil the sector, like many others, has significantly declined to its lowest ebb. During the period, several dominant actors like Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO), Morewear industries and National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) among others have either closed down, reduced operations or relocated to other countries for their survival. This has also greatly affected the manufacturing sector which depends primly on the steel industry.

Reflecting on the sector’s performance over the years, EISAZ President Austin Tigere bemoaned the fall of ZISCO, a situation that has seen the iron and steel industry depending heavily on the importation of raw materials.

Tigere noted that the over dependent on imports of raw materials mainly from China, South Africa, and Zambia has rendered the sector’s products uncompetitive on the local, regional and international markets. He said the revival of the ZISCO is the missing link in turning around the fortunes of the sector and economy at large, and called for the government to speed up efforts to resuscitate the iron giant.

The Zimbabwean government has on a number of times promised resuscitating ZISCO, if fully recapitalised the iron and steel sector has the potential to boost the country’s economy.

In his celebratory message to the sector the Zimbabwean Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said, “The engineering, iron, and steel industry is undoubtedly a key cog in the manufacturing industry as the robust architecture of the modern industrial world is made of steel.

“The government is working tirelessly to address the challenges that the sector continues to face such as working capital constraints, lack of financing mechanisms, antiquated machinery, depressed demand on the local market, and stiff competition from imports.”

The sector registered an overall deficit of about USD$ 3.3 in the period 2008-2012 translating into an average deficit of about USD$660 million per year. Exports constituted USD$7 billion against USD$10 billion imports according to the Zimbabwe Engineering, Iron and Steel Sector Strategy of 20115-2020. It recommended the resuscitation of ZISCO to avoid over reliance on costly imported raw materials. zwnews.com