Michael Magoronga Bulawayo Bureau
THE Government would soon carry out a forensic audit at the defunct steel giant, Ziscosteel, to quantify and ascertain the losses at the company, acting Ziscosteel board chairperson, Engineer Martin Manhuwa, has said.
In an interview, Eng Manhuwa said an asset performance management system was being put in place at the company as part of the short-term stabilisation interventions.
The move comes at a time when looting and syndicated theft of assets had become rampant at the company, which seized operations almost a decade ago.
With regards to debt, Eng Manhuwa said clarity was being sought as to the exact status of the debt incurred by Zisco.
“The debt was taken over by Government under the Debt Assumption Bill (2017) but still remains on the Zisco balance sheet,” he said.
“The long and short is that we are carrying out a forensic audit within this quarter to quantify and ascertain the losses.
“We have beefed up security and we are now seized with an asset inventory management system that will assist us to start the bankable feasibility study.
“This will inform the Zisco information memorandum that will give investors a term sheet,” said Eng Manhuwa.
He, however, said a recent survey revealed that while most of the assets were stolen, there were some that were sold above board as the company seeks to raise funding to revive subsidiaries.
“Waste products like furnace slag and metal scrap that were sold were above board and based on a board resolution.
“There was, however, theft of copper cables and, metal scrap as well as vandalisation of some metal structures,” he said.
“Zisco has since increased cooperation between itself and national security agencies. At the same time, the company has embarked on a process to increase security personnel as well as appropriately equipping them.”
Eng Manhuwa said the move was part of the company’s long-term strategic plan to remodel the industry by building a business case that attracts investment, restore competitiveness and build capacity throughout the value chain of the iron and steel industry in Zimbabwe.
As part of the company’s revival strategies, Eng Manhuwa said the company will focus on reduction of costs of products and services and import substitution, establishing champions to spearhead export growth and exploring niche products for the international market.
“We want to enhance the local content in procurement and other value-added products and stimulation of local demand as part of our revival strategy.
“We also intend to promote technological advancement and innovation as well as tap into the benefits availed by regional and multilateral trade agreements as we moving towards the revitalisation of the company,” said Eng Manhuwa.
During a recent tour of the plant, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said the Government had no time to waste on negotiating tables with non-committal investors. She also expressed disgust over the looting of assets at the company.
The Government is still locked in talks with Hong-Kong based company R&F with hopes high that the largest iron and steel manufacturing company in the region will be revived.