Kwekwe legislator wants Indian Investor kicked out at Lancashire Steel

By Staff Reporter

Kwekwe Legislator Masango Matambanadzo wants Whinstone Enterprises the Indian investors who are investing a yet to be disclosed amount to Lancashire Steel to be kicked out for failing to kick start operations at the plant.

Matambanadzo in an interview after a visit to Lancashire recently to get an appreciation of the company Matambanadzo said he was elated to gather that Lancashire had finally found an investor after a near ten decade closure.

He however has expressed disappointment that  since the inking of the deal last year there hasn’t been any movement on the plant an indication that the investors are not serious.

The law maker said if Whinstone did not have enough capacity it must be kicked out and find another investor.

The MP claimed that he himself was able to find an investor for Lancashire after saying that he brought over 20 investors to Kwekwe especially in the area of mining.

He further claimed that he was also responsible for arm twisting government to settle outstanding salaries of ex-Ziscosteel employees.

“We are expecting to see movement at the plant but to date there hasn’t been any movement a clear reflection of lack of seriousness and sencirity on the part of the investors.

“If they are having challenges in consummating the deal they must be kicked out and find another investor. There are Chinese who are interested in investing at the company,” he said.

Matambanadzo said he was close to the Chinese investors after his numerous exploits in the Asian Country.

“I have Chinese investors who are willing to invest in that plant. I am able to find investors for Lancashire as to date I have brought more than 20 investors to Kwekwe,” he said.

Government and Whinstone Enterprises have however expressed optimism that the deal will sail through.

Recently Industry and Commerce Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said the deal is supposed to pass through cabinet and the Parastatal Restructuring Committee before implementation stage.

Ndlovu said the two parties were confident that the deal would come to fruition.

Meanwhile, speaking from his Botswana base Whinstone Enterprises Director Deepak Verma said they were committed to see the deal coming into fruition.

He indicated that the company was only waiting to tie lose ends with the government.

Lancashire Steel insiders have since indicated that there hasn’t been any movement on the deal so far.

The deal will once consummated will give Whinstone Enterprise 50% ownership of the Kwekwe based firm after five years.

“The deal is a joint venture between Whinstone Enterprises and Lancashire Steel, where Whinstone will revive the plant and equipment with the skill from Zimbabwe and If need be what we cannot find in Zimbabwe will be imported so that Lancashire comes back in production market

“The joint venture is key to both Lancashire as well as Whinstone and very strategic as this allows the massive legacy of Lancashire to carry forward under the name of Lancashire,” Verma said.

“Whinstone is modernizing the plant Lancashire as it cannot run without modernization. The importance of this marriage is it gives existing brand Whinstone

“But Lancashire is a dormant brand as people in the region are well aware about it that it closed years ago because Ziscosteel closed and the raw materials needed by Lancashire were coming from Zisco. The same raw materials will be supplied by Whinstone,” said Verma.

The businessman said progress is yet to kick start at the plant since government is yet to avail the requisite documents.

Verma explained, “Whinstone has however, demanded a few conditions which are part of the agreement

“We need endorsement from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the request is pending with them.

“Once government endorses, Whinstone can start moving the new equipment and finances to Lancashire.”

He added that the company also needs exemption on the import of capital goods.

“There is need for the exemption of duty on the goods to be imported as raw materials or feedstock to Lancashire Steel.

“We also need an exemption on export of steel scrap which has to be converted into the feedstock of Lancashire. The exemption of this export of scrap is needed up to 3000 to 3300 tons per month as that is what Lancashire Steel can take as import of the feed stock,” he said.

Without implementation of the key enablers, Verma indicated that it will be difficult to start production at the company.

“Definitely the key enablers must be met as we cannot bring the goods as Zimra will not clear the goods/ equipment at the border if we are not able to tell them where they are going an under which trading name

“We are very keen to run the operation and are complete committed, we have received all positive vibes from the staff, the board members, as the ministry but also understand some of the Zimbabwe challenges in speeding up processes,” he said.

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