By Prosper Ndlovu
The revival of big industries in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors is top of the Government’s agenda as the nation seeks to transform the economy and create jobs for Zimbabweans, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Addressing a large gathering that witnessed the reception of interim solution equipment under the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s $400 million recapitalisation in Bulawayo, the President said comprehensive measures were being put in place to revitalise the big industries in order to create a conducive climate for increased investment.
The Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet Consortium has partnered with NRZ to recapitalise the NRZ to the tune of $400 million and the deal is expected to be concluded by June this year.
“My Government is seized with the need to rescuscitate large domestic industries in mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors such as, Zisco, Mashava Mine, Cold Storage Company, Willowvale and David Whitehead Textiles, among others. These are on my agenda to rescuscitate,” he said.
President Mnangagwa, who received the first batch of the leased equipment from South Africa, said a comprehensive strategies have been put in place to revive the transport sector, in particular the railway system, as a key enabler so as to facilitate solid growth in other sectors.
“The rail system is essential in the transportation of bulk and heavy goods in strategic sectors such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing. To this end, the significance of an effective and an efficient railway system cannot be overemphasised, more so in a landlocked economy like ours, as it enhances our ability to compete and integrate ourselves into regional and international markets,” said the President.
Under the interim solution deal, NRZ will lease 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 passenger coaches from Transnet to address key resource gaps in its operations while negotiations for the $400 million recapitalisation package are being finalised. Already 150 wagons, seven locomotives and seven passenger coaches have been delivered with the remainder expected to be in the country by April this year.
Mnangagwa said an efficient railway system will significantly reduce the cost at which Zimbabwe lands its products on the export markets. He described the NRZ-DIDG/Transnet Consortium deal as a turning point in the country’s economy as it provides a strong foundation towards full industrialisation.
Mnangagwa commended DIDG and Transnet for putting together the $400 million deal saying this has come as a boost for his administration’s drive to turnaround the economy.
“DIDG has demonstrated their patriotism and love for their country, and also shown confidence in the future of Zimbabwe. It is encouraging when my fellow Zimbabweans complement Government initiatives by bringing such significant investment into the country.
“This investment will not only revive the railway network, but will also benefit downstream backward and forward linkage-industries related to railway operations,” he said.
The President expressed hope that the new investment will enhance NRZ’s efficiency and ensure railway transport is dependable and consistent.
He pledged Government’s commitment to ensuring swift and meticulous conclusion of outstanding matters around the deal to ensure win-win outcomes.
Mnangagwa said the NRZ-DIDG/Transnet partnership was a milestone development for Southern Africa in view of Sadc’s Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, which identifies expansion, upgrading and interconnection of regional transport (road, rail, air and ports), as key in enhancing trade flows and the mobility of factors of production.
“Increased investment is therefore needed to improve the quality of the regional transport network across all modes while promoting alternative renewable energy sources for the rail transport sector,” said Mnangagwa.
In line with this regional thrust, he said Zimbabwe was committed to ensuring modernisation, rehabilitation and refurbishment of the country’s railway system and establishment of new networks which penetrate the region.
“This will in turn hasten regional integration and enhance our ability to offer lower transport costs, based on economies of scale and reduced cost of doing business. A rejuvenated railway network will therefore, not only benefit the country but other countries in the sub-region,” said the President.
He paid tribute to NRZ workers for their patience and resilience during the time the company was facing challenges and pledged Government support in ensuring that the company improves workers’ welfare as business improves.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi, Cabinet ministers – Dr Obert Mpofu (Home Affairs), Winston Chitando (mines) Dr Chris Mushowe (scholarships), Dr Joram Gumbo (transport) and his South Africa counterpart Mr Joe Maswanganyi, Zimbabwe Ambassador to South Africa Cde Isaac Moyo, DIDG and Transnet executives, NRZ board and management, provincial ministers of state and senior government officials as well as scores of Bulawayo residents attended the reception ceremony. The Herald