By Michael Magoronga
About 3 850 former Ziscosteel workers and those of its subsidiaries, failed to get their March salaries after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) garnisheed the former steel giant’s accounts.
Government assumed Ziscosteel debts under the Debt Assumption Act in 2017 after retrenchment of all employees in 2016.
Former Ziscosteel employees have been receiving part of the $38 million windfall availed by Government as part of their outstanding salaries backdated to 2009 after agreeing to settle the former workers’ arrears in tranches beginning September 2017.
Ziscosteel Workers Committee chairperson Mr Ben Moyo confirmed that they had not received their March salary but said he was not aware of the reason as he was sick.
Ziscosteel CEO Mr Alois Gowo confirmed that indeed the tax collectors left the former steel giant stranded.
He said the garnished account is the same that caters for both company’s business transactions and worker’s salaries.
“The garnishee order was issued after the company fell behind on payment of its statutory obligations. All along the company has been surviving on selling blast furnace slag that is the same money we would use for power, water supplies from Kwekwe City Council as well as giving little tokens to some workers. That is the same money we failed to declare to the tax payers because it was too little,” said Mr Gowo.
He however said the former workers’ salaries were safe as they were not affected.
“The company has offered a payment plan to ZIMRA which is under consideration. Once accepted, the garnishee would be lifted and former workers would be able to access their salaries. They need not to panic as we are hopeful that the talks will yield positive results,” he said.
Ziscosteel subsidiary companies, Lancashire Steel and Bimco’s workers were also affected. ZIMRA Spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.
The company effectively stopped production at its Redcliff main plant back in 2008 resulting in about 5000 people losing their jobs.
Hopes for the revival of operations at the steel giant were revived in 2017 after coking company ZimCoke bought a coking company within the now defunct former regional steel giant, a move considered as the first step towards the company’s resuscitation.
An Indian steel conglomerate, Essar Global, signed a $750 million deal with Government to resuscitate operations at Zisco but the deal failed to sail through. The Herald