We are watching you

HARARE - Yesterday, a local weekly reported that the much-hyped billion-dollar Zisco Steel (Zisco) deal was yet to be signed.

The man at the forefront of crafting and announcing the deal, Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha, said “nothing solid has been signed to date”, though, he thought there has been a “lot of progress”.

This is nearly two months after he unveiled the mega deal — to the scepticism of many fed-up Zimbabweans — in which billionaire Chinese investor Zhang Li is expected to pump in at least $1 billion to revive the collapsed iron and steel manufacturer.

There is not much doubt about the investor’s capacity.

Zhang Li — co-founder and chairperson of R&F — appears capable to have the capacity to finance an investment of such magnitude.

While it would seem too early to expect finalisation of a deal of such proportion within the two months, there is good reason for long-suffering Zimbabweans to be very much concerned and worried about its status and progress. 

When a jubilant Bimha unveiled the deal, it appeared almost like everything was set.

And government has announced so many deals in similar fashion, but nothing came out them.

They never materialised or probably, they are still in the making.

From the Chinese mega deals to Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote.

When Dangote set foot on Zimbabwean soil, it was like finally, Zimbabwe is back on track.

He was beamed by State media on each and every news bulletin.

For days.

But now, government is deafeningly silent about the Dangote deals.

What happened?

That is the burning question which makes Zimbabweans wary of these government deals.

While Zhang Li’s offer is seemingly attractive and comes at the right time for investment-starved Zimbabwe, he is not the first to come to Zisco’s rescue.

There have been many before him.

Countless times, government has introduced, with zeal, investors it claimed were keen and serious on reviving the steel maker.

Following bids by 12 companies in 2009, including steel giant Arcelor Mittal, an upbeat government announced that it was partnering Essar Africa (Essar) in a $750 million deal, which was eventually finalised in 2011.

The Essar deal was so hyped.

Just like Li’s.

It was only for government to tell Zisco workers — who had patiently and hopefully gone for months on end without salaries — years down the line that the deal collapsed.

It was so disheartening.

And Zimbabweans do not want a repeat of that this time around. Not at all.

This is just a gentle reminder, Cde Minister.

We are watching you.

Closely.

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