TATENDA CHIKARA IN MASVINGO
ZANU-PF’S politburo member, Christopher Mutsvangwa, says Zimbabwe’s economy is heading in the right direction as much progress has been achieved.
Mutsvangwa, who spoke at a recent Provincial Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) meeting in Masvingo said there was a new sense of optimism in the economy with international investors flocking into the country.
Mutsvangwa, who is also the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman, said several steel processing players and other value chains were flocking Chivhu and Mvuma. Chinese steel giant, Tsingshan Group, is already rolling out a multi-million-dollar steel and ferro chrome project in Mvuma.
The project will entail a carbon steel plant , an iron ore mine and a processing plant with an annual production capacity of 500 000 tonnes.
An inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, to expedite the project has already been set up by the government.
Mutsvangwa said the plant would perhaps be the biggest steel plant in Africa when complete. The plant is expected to be complete by the end of next year.
Tsingshan’s Zimbabwe unit Afrochine has several other investments in the country in Selous and Hwange district.
“We will probably have the biggest steel plant in Africa by December next year. We will get into elections in 2023 already building a town and steel plants three times bigger than Ziscosteel in Mvuma [and] Chivhu.”
Mutsvangwa said the flocking of the biggest steel making companies in the world into Zimbabwe would see Masvingo, a border province benefitting from the Rutenga-Chikwalakwala railway line functioning again.
“Coming from Harare, the mountains that you see on your right when reaching are all iron ore, So we are getting the biggest companies in the world coming to do steel plants in Zimbabwe,” Mutsvangwa said.
He added: “…Masvingo is the easiest way to Maputo where there is a big port and a route without mountains is through Masvingo. Our railway line which starts from Rutenga to Chikwalakwala will function, transporting iron to other countries as well as bringing oil in an economy which is moving in the right direction.”
Critics, however, are sceptical that the fragile economy was on the road to recovery. They say the government’s economic policies were unpalatable to foreign investors although President Emmerson Mnangagwa was keen to revitalise the ailing economy.
They said it will take years to repair the fragile economy, whose annual inflation is still high at 162%. The economy is still battling foreign currency shortages and is also gripped with crippling power shortages.
Critics say the government should make drastic reforms.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs, Ezra Chadzamira, who also spoke at the PCC meeting, said several irrigation projects were taking place in the province.
“We will see in Masvingo the Mutirikwi up-string irrigation schemes. The green belt, including Bikita district, will irrigate about 3800 hectares. This is budgeted under National Development Strategy 1,” Chadzamira said.
He added: “We will also see the refurbishment of the Mushandike irrigation scheme that will also benefit about 3200 households from an initial 800 households. The water will be from Muzhwi Dam.”