Zimra finally lifts Ziscosteel garnishes
KWEKWE – The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has finally lifted a garnish order it had imposed on the accounts of Ziscosteel, it has emerged.
The garnish came at a time when government was settling outstanding salary arrears of the state-owned entity’s former employees.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer Alois Gowo confirmed recently that Zimra had lifted the garnish order.
“Zimra lifted the garnish order after we had agreed on a payment plan,” Gowo said in a recent interview, but said the workers were yet to receive their payouts.
“Workers are yet to be paid. We settled Zimra but I am chasing my principals to speed up depositing delayed payments.”
The garnish order came after Ziscosteel failed to fulfill some statutory obligations. Gowo last week indicated that the company had offered a payment plan which was still under consideration. Once accepted, the garnish would be lifted and former workers would be able to access their salary arrears, added Gowo.
In 2017, former Ziscosteel employees started receiving part of the $38 million windfall availed by government as part of their outstanding salaries backdated to 2009. Government had agreed to settle the arrears in tranches beginning September 2017, having taken over Zisco debts under the Debt Assumption Act in 2017, following the retrenchment of all employees the previous year.
Majority owned by the State, the company effectively stopped production at its Redcliff main base back in 2008.
The employees’ arrears were settled following a court order, through lawyers who attached the company’s properties. A billion dollar rescue, through a takeover by an Indian company, suffered a stillbirth after government threw spanners into the works.
The sheriff of the High Court then attached vehicles, machinery and other movable property belonging to the company following an order by the High court over the workers’ unpaid salaries. The 2016 layoffs then followed the collapse of a deal with India’s Essar Group.
Essar had then won the bid to take over Ziscosteel against competitors including ArcelorMittal and Jindal steel with the takeover hyped at an elaborate 2011 event attended by President Robert Mugabe and his then power-sharing Prime Minister the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
Then Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in his 2016 budget said the government would take over Zisco estimated $700 million debt in a bid to woo fresh investors.
Meanwhile, the $1 billion Ziso project is on ice pending Government and the Chinese investor R&F reconciling on a number of issues underpinning the deal.