Implement deal with Essar: PM

HARARE - Government should move to implement the multi-million dollar deal with Indian steel giant Essar, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said.

Addressing journalists during his monthly press briefing on Tuesday, Tsvangirai said government should own up to its signature.

“The Essar project has to proceed and the debate over mining concessions should now be a thing of the past. Cabinet has made a decision and to continue to stall will affect the project. We signed up to the deal with all its conditions and all we expect is for work to begin at Essar and after two years of dillydallying we must thank Essar for being very patient and remaining focused on this project but I must say patience has its limits and should anything affect this project the Zimbabwean government is to blame,” said Tsvangirai.

He said the challenge that the coalition government faces is to grow the economy.

“Our major concern has been dwindling revenue inflows and this has affected government’s capacity to deliver on its primary functions. While we have succeeded in achieving economic stability, the new challenge is to grow the economy and this can only happen with foreign direct investment (FDI),” the Prime Minister said.

“On Chisumbanje, government has just dispatched an inter-ministerial committee and we await their feedback. We have to balance between the need to protect such a major investment and the concerns of the displaced communities.

“The future is in ethanol but we are expecting feedback on the situation on the ground from the committee that was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara so that we determine the way forward.
We have this capacity to shoot ourselves in the foot and I do not think it is helpful,” Tsvangirai said.

Political bickering and mudslinging have stalled the implementation of the Essar deal seen as Zimbabwe’s biggest investment in the past decade.

Earlier this year Mines minister Obert Mpofu was accused of defying a Cabinet directive to transfer of ore resources to Newzim Steel the new company set to run the former Ziscosteel operations.

Tsvangirai’s message seemed to have been aimed at calling Mpofu and his Industry counterpart Welshman Ncube to order.

The ethanol project in Chisumbanje has been hamstrung by a combination of politics and Cabinet failure to make a decision on whether the country should legislate for compulsory blending of fuels.


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