Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has lifted its garnishee order on Ziscosteel following Government intervention, bringing relief to former workers who were failing to get their outstanding salaries.
The steel giant, which switched off its fourth and last furnace at the height of economic challenges in 2008 and was left saddled with a US$500 million debt, has been struggling to court new investors to resume production.
Government assumed Zisco’s debt in 2017 under the Debt Assumption Act and agreed to stagger the employees’ outstanding salaries amounting to US$38 million.
According to the schedule of the Act, Zisco owes US$211 912 400 in external loans, US$6 095 620 to external suppliers, US$57 696 085 in domestic loans and US$219 113 219 to domestic suppliers, utilities and statutory obligations.
This brings the total Zisco debt to US$494 817 324 million.
Ex-Zisco employees’ chair Mr Abraham Dube said the employees were still unable to access their monthly payouts, which were being garnished by the taxman every time Government made a deposit into the Ziscosteel accounts.
“We are still wallowing in poverty. We have not been getting anything as part of our outstanding salaries despite Government committing to pay us. Every time we visit the company to inquire about our salaries they tell us that their accounts were garnished by Zimra, so we are stranded,” said Mr Dube.
The company’s ex-chief executive, Mr Alois Gowo — who is still employed on a caretaker basis — said the company’s principals have since engaged Zimra to lift the garnishee order.
“Zimra lifted the garnishee order after we agreed on a payment plan and we are confident the employees will start getting their monthly payments,” Mr Gowo said in an interview.
He said they were still meeting with the company’s principals on how they were going to pay the workers.
“At the moment, workers are yet to be paid,” said Mr Gowo. “We have now settled with Zimra, but I am chasing my principals to speed up the release of money for the workers.”