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Cabinet approves $350 million Ziscosteel deal

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Ziscosteel Zimbabwe

GOVERNMENT yesterday approved the $350 million investment deal in which ZimCoke (Pvt) Ltd will revitalise the coke plant within Ziscosteel, creating more than 800 jobs in the process.

Of the $350 million, $133 million will be capital injection while $225 million will cover the debt owed by Ziscosteel to Germany bank, KFW.

This will give ZimCoke full ownership of the coking plant. At full tilt, the project is expected to produce 500 000 tonnes of coke annually, for both local use and export markets.

Government’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) targets re-opening of closed mines, expansion of those that are operating below capacity and opening of new ones.

Briefing journalists after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the deal, whose agreement was signed in 2017, had been given the nod.

“Following a presentation by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Cabinet approved the operationalisation of the agreement between Ziscosteel and ZimCoke (Pvt) Ltd,” she said.

“The agreement entails the revival and running of the coke oven batteries, which have not been operating since 2008. At full production, ZimCoke will manufacture half a million tonnes of coke in a year. The project also involves rehabilitation of Redcliff Water Supply infrastructure, production of tar and pitch for road making as well as the refurbishment of locomotives and wagons.”

Expanding on the deal, Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said it will bring life to the town of Redcliff.

“The agreement has to do with Zim Coke running the coke oven batteries that are at Ziscosteel and this will entail the processing of coking coal for the purposes of exporting coke therefrom,” he said.

“This is an agreement that was signed in 2017 but needed fine tuning and we have gone through that. All issues that needed to be cleared have been cleared.”

On the amount of money involved, Minister Ndlovu said: “It’s an investment that will be worth $133 million in capital injection but it also involves ZimCoke taking over the Ziscosteel debt to Germany company, KFW of $225 million. All in all, it’s an investment worth more than $350 million, which we expect to create not less than 800 jobs and really bring more life to the town of Redcliff. They will be also be involved in improving the water system in the town.”

Meanwhile, Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had received an update from the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing on the ongoing recovery programme with respect to the Cyclone Idai disaster. “The Minister informed the Cabinet that progress continues to be registered in regard to the opening of access routes to affected areas and the distribution of relief assistance,” she said.

“The statistics on lives lost so far stand at 344, inclusive of those buried in Mozambique. Out of the 347 persons reported as missing, 206 names have been provided with the help of the surviving relatives and neighbours, leaving a balance of 141 unnamed persons still missing. A total of 79 relatives have provided samples for DNA testing. The assessment of the cost of the damaged school infrastructure has been completed in all districts.”

She added: “Following His Excellency the President’s meeting last week with the private sector, various offers of assistance continue to be received for the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure as well as re-integration of pupils affected by the disaster into the education system.

“Special emphasis is on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of schools so as to ensure the expeditious resumption of learning in the affected areas, Cabinet was informed that work has already started with respect to spatial planning and eventual relocation of some affected communities. A programme is also underway to spearhead the recovery of destroyed businesses through a Government-sponsored financing facility.”The Chronicle

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BUSINESS

Zimbabwe set to rebase economy after adopting a new currency

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Zimbabwe Economy

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister announced the rebasing of the economy on Wednesday, following the adoption of a new currency earlier this year, and said growth would be slowed this year by a drought and a cyclone that hit eastern regions.

The Zimbabwe economy grew higher than expected in 2018, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told parliament.

The central bank scrapped the peg between its quasi-currency bond note and electronic dollars against the U.S dollar in February and merged them into a single transitional currency called the RTGS dollar.

Rebasing the Zimbabwe economy broadly means changing the reference points used to calculate the country’s gross domestic product.

The southern African nation rebased its economy last October boosting it by 40% to $25.8 billion and Ncube said the adoption of the RTGS$ required another rebasing exercise, which put the economy at RTGS$70.1 billion or $21 billion at the official exchange rate.

Ncube said the Zimbabwe economy had grown by 6.2 per cent in 2018 compared to an initial forecast of 3.1 per cent but he saw growth being throttled this year by “severe economic shocks”, including a drought that has wilted crops and a cyclone that hit western parts of Zimbabwe in March.

He said Zimbabwe had 876 000 tonnes of maize in strategic grain reserves, enough to feed the country for seven months.

Ncube said the national treasury’s austerity measures had meant a budget surplus of RTGS$443 million was recorded in the first quarter and added that the target of a budget deficit of 5% of GDP would be achieved this year. Reuters

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BUSINESS

Mnangagwa extends John Mangudya’s term by another five years

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John Mangudya

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday appointed John Mangudya for a second and final five-year term as central bank governor, a government official said.

John Mangudya was first appointed to the post in 2014 but his term was marred by the bank’s decision to introduce the surrogate bond note currency two years later in a bid to end a severe shortage of U.S. dollars and cash.

“The extension takes effect from 1 May 2019 for another five years,” Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to the president and cabinet said in a statement.

Mangudya’s appointment had been largely expected after Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba said the governor would get a second term.

Zimbabwe is gripped by a severe shortage of dollars that has seen the country struggle to import food and medicines for hospitals. Reuters

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BUSINESS

No change in passport fees: RG

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Zimbabwe passport fees

Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango yesterday dismissed social media reports alleging that Zimbabwe passport fees are set to be increased soon, saying Government had a well-structured method of conveying such messages.

In an interview, Mr Clement Masango said production of passports resumed last Friday afternoon after a system malfunction owing to a technical fault.

“There have been reports on social media alleging that passport fees will be hiked,” he said. “That is not true. I am concerned as the Registrar- General that some people seem to thrive on creating controversy meant to instil alarm and despondency in society.

“This kind of behaviour must be condemned in the strongest terms. To members of the public, I would want to say it is not Government practice to communicate official matters through social media. There are no plans to revise passport fees upwards as alleged by the social media.”

According to the online reports, fees for a normal passport were set to rise from $53 to $253. It had also been reported that fees for an urgent passport would go up from $253 to $800.

The reports of a Zimbabwe passport fees review coincided with a temporary halt in the issuance of passports due to the technical fault.

“The stoppage was as a result of a system malfunction,” said Mr Masango. “It was rectified and by Friday afternoon production had resumed. There is, therefore, no need for members of the public to panic.

“The situation is under control and production of passports has since resumed after that temporary setback. As a department, we want to apologise to our stakeholders for the inconvenience that they went through as a result of that stoppage.”

The RG’s Office is working round the clock to clear a passport backlog which has also been spawned by escalating for the prized document.

The Passport Office has also had to contend with limited financial resources to procure consumables, thereby taking longer to clear the backlog.

The office is on record as expressing its commitment to clear the backlog, which has been characterised by long and winding queues at the Central Registry in Harare.

The long queues have also created a fertile ground for rent-seeking behaviour, with some unscrupulous people cashing in on desperate passport applicants. The Herald

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