By Jeffrey Muvundusi
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has received a big boost after both Zimbabwe and South Africa cleared all the hurdles which had delayed the injection of US$400 million into the struggling parastatal.
This comes after the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) won the tender to recapitalise NRZ in 2017, although the deal subsequently faced headwinds due to what is said to have been “inexplicable” hold ups by the government.
As a result, progress on the deal was delayed by more than eight months, despite DIDG and its South African partner, Transnet, sourcing the funding for the project.
But Tuesday’s Zimbabwe-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) meeting in Harare cleared all the “niggling” issues.
“Their (DIDG and Transnet) anxiety to receive official confirmation that the Zimbabwean side will give the required six months extension of the framework agreement … shall finally pave the way for work on the project to progress smoothly,” International Trade minister Sibusiso Busi Moyo told journalists at the BNC meeting.
NRZ spokesperson, Nyasha Maravanyika, said “It’s difficult for me to give timelines for the project because we have got a number of things that require attention.
“For example … the NRZ debt is an issue that has to be dealt with, as well as outstanding human resources issues, just to mention a few,” Maravanyika said.
Still, he said, the NRZ was bullish about recapitalising its operations which had almost collapsed over the past two decades.
DIDG chairperson Donavan Chimhandamba also told the Daily News that they were expecting solid progress on the deal.
“The next steps and focus areas are signing of the re-instatement agreement, which will allow parties to focus on concluding the core transaction agreements which will be submitted to the banks for review.
“Once banks have gone through the critical documentation, they will start the process of developing the binding term sheets.
“Other critical activities will be commencing with the transition planning, as this will inform how NRZ current operations will be handled under the new concession arrangement. Once all this is done, final regulatory approvals will be sought,” he said.
On its part, the government expects the consummation of the deal to improve the NRZ’s efficiency in the transportation of goods and passengers. Daily News